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Kyrene School District planning to end its mask requirement by January

Now that kids ages 5-11 are able to get a COVID-19 vaccine, the Kyrene School District is looking to end its mask requirement, it announced to families in a Monday letter. 

The Kyrene district, which serves nearly 16,000 preschool through eighth grade students, told KJZZ the Monday announcement gives families ample time to get their kids fully vaccinated. The district will continue to strongly encourage face coverings, it said.  

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases are rising in the state, and according to data from the Maricopa County health department, within  the district’s boundaries. The district's plans can be adjusted as needed, and hopes to have further updates following winter break, it said. 

It's unclear if other school districts will follow Kyrene's lead.

At least two districts, Balsz and Madison Elementary, told KJZZ they had no immediate plans to stop requiring masks and will continue following current public health guidelines. The Litchfield Elementary School District had set a Dec. 17 expiration date for its mask requirement back when it announced the policy in September. The district's governing board plans to discuss the policy at its Dec. 14 meeting, it told KJZZ.   

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