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Tolleson Elementary School District to require masks, citing increased need to quarantine

The Tolleson Elementary School District in the West Valley has announced that it will begin requiring masks indoors after students return from the Thanksgiving break on Monday, Nov. 29. This decision is based on its increased need to quarantine classrooms, which has been challenging for students, their working parents and staff, said Superintendent Lupita Hightower in a  Wednesday letter to families. 

"I know for parents and children it is challenging because they need to switch from their choice of in person learning to online learning so suddenly. It also can be hard to manage child care as working parents when there is no time to plan," she said. "And for our teachers, administrators and staff, the challenges are similar as they are required to switch quickly, change gears to online learning, and it sometimes causes staffing shortages that put an added burden on our staff and teachers."

The district of about 2,800 students worries that a predicted surge in COVID-19 cases could elevate those challenges. 

Wearing the masks will reduce COVID-19 transmission as well as the need to quarantine, Hightower said. The mask policy will be reviewed quarterly, and Hightower said the district will keep families informed of changes.

The announcement comes days after the Kyrene School District in the East Valley shared its plans to drop its mask policy by January now that 5- to 11-year-old kids can now get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

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