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Mask-free last week of school brings mixed feelings for Utah parents

Posted at 5:20 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 21:08:43-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Many Utah students were able to attend school without a mask Monday, marking the near end of the school year.

READ: CDC advises schools to continue having students wear masks for rest of school year

Earlier this month, Gov. Spencer Cox announced that school districts would have the option to stop mandating masks for the last week of the school year.

Most school districts lifted mask requirements for the end of the school year. The Salt Lake City School District, however, decided to continue requiring masks.

Despite not having to wear masks, Elizabeth Gray said her kids decided to anyway. When her kindergarten student returned home from school, she said she was the only one still wearing a mask.

“They still went with their masks today and they both grabbed them, had no problem leaving with them,” said Gray.

Monday was the first time the kids were excited to go to school this year, Celsy Jensen said. Her four children were thrilled to leave the masks behind, she said.

“The minute I said that they don’t have to wear masks today, they were so excited they started cheering. It was so fun to see them excited to go to school,” Jensen said.

READ: Cox terminates mask mandate for state facilities

Most people who spoke with FOX 13 said they were happy to be done with masks in schools.

However, it wasn’t a happy day for everyone. Drew Anderson decided to keep his son home for the last week because the mask requirements were lifted. Since Anderson is high-risk, he can’t take the chance his son brings COVID-19 home, he said.

“The hardest part was hearing, well the high-risk people can just stay home it’s just the fun stuff and we’ve missed all the fun stuff this year,” Anderson said.

Masks will not be required during the 2021-22 school year, Cox promised.

Jensen believes it should have always been the parent’s choice whether kids had to wear masks in schools.

“I feel like it was a little overboard for kids to be wearing them when it doesn’t affect them as much and it should be a choice,” she said.

WATCH: Bill banning mask mandates in Utah schools advances on Capitol Hill

Britney Lindsey says this has not been a fun journey for her family.

As a mother of two in school, Lindsey pulled her kids from public school and sent them to a charter school that accepted mask exemptions. She hopes her twins can go back to the school down the road next year instead of the charter school 30 minutes away.

“I will send my kids there again if these games start again this summer and they start playing political pawns with our kids,” Lindsey said.

Not all parents agree; Christina Eldredge has kept her son home since the pandemic and is concerned to send him back in the fall now that masks will not be required.

“The reason we are planning to send him to school in the fall is his mental health — he is a social butterfly,” she said.