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Cox considered issuing executive order to allow for school mask requirement

Spencer Cox
Posted at 3:18 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 17:39:45-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox reportedly told local education officials from around the state that he would issue an executive order allowing them to mandate masks in schools.

WATCH: U.S. Dept. of Education warns Utah of possible investigation over school mask bans

The Salt Lake Tribune reports Cox made the offer Tuesday during a meeting with a group of health officials, school superintendents and other state officials.

However, the report says Cox's offer was "pushed back because of the heated rhetoric and backlash such a move would likely bring."

Spencer Cox meeting
From left, Utah Department of Health deputy director Dr. Michelle Hofmann, Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson. During a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, Cox offered to use his executive authority to allow schools to implement mask mandates.

The governor's office told FOX 13 that “discussions with legislative leaders and school leaders are ongoing. No decisions have been made.”

Cox's offer came the day school began in Salt Lake City, where Mayor Erin Mendenhall had previously ordered masks be worn in grades K-12. Some in the Utah Legislature oppose Mendenhall's actions and are threatening legislation to limit the power of mayors in the state.

WATCH: Utah law banning government COVID-19 vaccine mandate expires

Back in May, lawmakers passed House Bill 1007 which barred public schools from requiring masks. Local health officials still have the authority to mandate masks, but those orders can be overturned by elected officials, similar to what occurred in Salt Lake County when the council reversed a school mask mandate issued by Dr. Angela Dunn.

The law passed by legislators in the spring came when daily COVID-19 cases had decreased to just a handful, and Cox himself had declared there would be no masks when schools reopened in August. Since then, the delta variant has led a surge in cases, especially in school-aged children.