Teachers and students in masks

The Arizona Department of Health Services issued a new mandate Thursday, Nov. 19 requiring mask-wearing in public schools. This includes mask-wearing by faculty, staff and visitors while at school, on the school bus and during all school-related activities.

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) issued an emergency measure Thursday, Nov. 19 requiring district and charter schools to “immediately mandate that masks are worn on school campuses,” according to the press release. The mandate also requires wearing masks on school buses and during school-associated activities by all students, faculty, staff, contractors, and visitors.”

The daily rate of new COVID-19 cases in Arizona and across the US has prompted a ramp up of precautions. And the data demonstrates that mask-wearing significantly helps reduce the spread of the virus. The federal Centers for Disease Control continue to recommend the “community use of masks, specifically non-valved multi-layer cloth masks, to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2.”

There were 4,544 new cases in Arizona last Tuesday, Nov. 24. Tuesday was one of several days in the last week where there were over 4,000 new cases reported in the state.

New cases, per day, in Apache and Navajo county mirror the statewide, upward trend. Reports by the local health departments showed 115 new cases in Apache County last Tuesday and 102 new cases in Navajo County. The same time in October, new daily cases averaged only 10 to 20.

“Keeping kids and teachers safe is one of our top priorities,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “This emergency measure issued by ADHS addresses the serious threat COVID-19 poses to our communities. It requires schools to implement the simple step of mask-wearing to reduce transmission and keep our kids safe.”

The Independent reached out to the 11 public school districts and several charter schools in Apache and Navajo counties last week. At press time, only Northern Arizona Academy in Taylor had responded regarding the mask mandate.

“Since the mandate in July we have followed Executive Order 2020-51,” wrote Northern Arizona Academy executive director Amy Carlyle. “Specifically we have required the following: masks for all staff, students and visitors while in the building, sanitization of all common surfaces in the classrooms and common areas after every class, temperature screens before boarding school transportation and upon entry into the building, hand sanitizing at the beginning of each class, limited class sizes and multiple classrooms open during meals so students can social distance. I appreciate the state’s efforts to allow schools to tailor strategies to the unique needs of each campus.”

Since mid July, schools have been required to implement COVID-19 mitigation strategies to keep students and staff safe.

Several districts have taken the distance learning approach by offering parents the ability to keep students at home. Other districts have adopted a hybrid model which requires part of the week on campus and part online. This reduces the total amount of students on campus together.

Among the strategies schools are already implementing are mask-wearing, physical distancing, increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols, limiting the size of groups, and increased hand hygiene.

The mask-wearing has now become non-negotiable. If schools weren’t requiring them before for on-campus learning, they will need to make that change.

“Based on recently released data, we now know masks provide more protection than previously thought,” said ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. “The new studies show that wearing a mask also protects the mask wearer, not just those around them. I encourage everyone to wear a mask whenever they are around people they don’t live with.”

Need a mask?

If a school is unable to provide masks for students that need them, there is help available. ADHS has partnered with Hanes to provide five free masks to students and their families. Families and schools can go to azhealth.gov/ordermasks to have free masks shipped to them.

For more information, please visit azhealth.gov/COVID19.

Reach the reporter at

lsingleton@wmicentral.com

(1) comment

phxnative54

What I've heard (indirectly) from teacher(s) in Round Valley:

* At least nine teachers have tested positive and/or contracted Covid-19.

* Most kids are NOT wearing masks, and are harassing and/or intimidating those students who do. (Gee, I wonder where they got those cues.)

* Social distancing is NOT being maintained.

* As many as 2/3 of the student body may not be up-to-date with their normally-required vaccinations due to "religious waivers." (Wonder what they'll do when the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available...)

Those behaviors seems to be parroting similar ones exhibited by many "adults" shopping at the two grocery stores in Round Valley. Is it any wonder we keep seeing more and more AND MORE cases there?!?

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