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Pima County Board Of Supervisors Votes No On Requiring Masks At Schools

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted on Monday against a proposal that would have required their K-12 students to wear masks at schools even as COVID-19 cases grow in the southern Arizona county and nationwide due to the delta variant. 

The proposal would’ve made masks mandatory for all students, including those at private schools, while indoors and would've taken effect immediately. But it would’ve violated a new state law.

Supervisor Matt Heinz, who proposed the mandate, questioned the constitutionality of the Arizona law. 

“We’ve seen in the state of Arkansas an exact, almost word-for-word prohibition on mask mandates and a court in Arkansas has now said, ‘Now wait a minute, you cannot treat public schools and private schools differently.'” 

An Arkansas judge has temporarily blocked that state from enforcing its ban on mask mandates, according to The Associated Press. 

Arizona’s law does not apply to private schools in the state, and some like Brophy College Preparatory have already said they will require masks. 

Supervisor Rex Scott said he supports requiring masks for students ages 12 and under who are not eligible for a COVID vaccine and those who work with them, but he didn’t think it was appropriate to ask school employees to enforce a mandate by the county. 

“They will have to do so, my colleagues, in an ugly, divisive and politicized environment created by Doug Ducey and his ideological soul mates in the Legislature," he said before voting against it.  

Scott added that he didn’t have a problem with school districts and their governing boards issuing mandates independently like the Tucson Unified School District has done. 

Supervisor Steve Christy, who also voted against the proposal, said masking decisions should be left to parents. 

In addition, the board voted against requiring COVID vaccination for county employees and health care workers. 

Rocio Hernandez was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2022.