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Student says mask-wearing not enforced outside class at Utah County high school

Posted at 10:20 PM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 22:15:28-05

HIGHLAND, Utah — Pictures from inside Lone Peak High School Monday show groups of students wearing masks around their chins, gathering without social distance.

The pictures come one day after Governor Gary Herbert's announcement of a new state of emergency and tightening restrictions across the state, amid a growing number of COVID-19 cases and concern over hospital overwhelm.

The scene, one student and parent explain-- and the school district acknowledges-- has been an issue, that the student says didn't change even after the governor's new order.

When Haven McGee showed up for school Monday, she indicated things looked as they did before the Sunday evening alert.

"Most people who were talking in halls, they had their masks down to their chins or they had their masks completely off," she said. "Just walking down the hallways there were so many kids, more than I can event count."

The Lone Peak High senior explained that the school even replayed Governor Herbert's announcement to all the students.

But even after everyone watched, she talked about how they continued to gather in the hallways and common areas while not wearing masks properly.

"I think a lot of it is a social thing," she explained. "Kids are scared to say, 'Hey, put on your mask.' Because it's not cool and everyone is like, 'Oh, wow, what sticklers for the rules.'"

Haven described how teachers enforce mask-wearing in the classrooms but said that outside of class staff members hardly say anything to kids in the crowded hallways or at lunch.

"Kids aren't being asked to wear their masks when they're not wearing them," she said.

She said she's seeing people gather in groups of 20 to 30, all in close contact.

Her father Bill McGee talked about how Governor Herbert's order didn't address restrictions or changes in the school setting.

"The governor said... 'We've got the schools under control. The problem is extra-curricular activity.'" Bill said. "And that's just simply not true."

"We don't have schools under control," Haven said.

"They're not under control," Bill echoed. "He doesn't know. He's not being told, or the people who are telling him are not giving him the right information, because that's absolutely not accurate."

The Alpine School District sent Fox 13 a statement Monday, in response to the concerns brought up by Bill and Haven.

“The principal realizes the students have been slacking off on wearing masks, that is why he played the governor’s message to all their students in the school today," wrote spokesperson Kimberly Bird. "

After the video, the teachers in the classrooms emphasized why wearing a mask is so important to the students. They did this to help stress the importance of wearing masks outside of the class.”

Bill and Haven described how, for them, showing the video wasn't enough to get the message across.

"I definitely think reinforcement of any kind would be helpful," Haven said. "Just administrators making even an announcement like, 'You will get in trouble if you're not wearing your masks, you have to be wearing your masks.' Nobody has even said anything like that."

They indicated that they hope students will start wearing masks correctly, and take the restrictions seriously.

"If we are going to have school, it needs to be safe," Haven said.