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Mixed reaction from parents on mask requirement announcement for schools

Posted at 9:56 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 23:56:24-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert announced Thursday masks will be required at all K-12 public and charter schools.

The news comes with mixed reactions from Utah parents.

Parent and teacher Rayshell Shelden said she sees the pros and cons, but her biggest concern is making sure everyone can afford and is given masks.

“If that’s what it takes to go back to school, that’s great. Let’s get it done so these kids can get the education they need,” she said.

Related: Teacher speaks on reopening schools during COVID-19 pandemic

I feel like masks aren’t a one size fits all, Stevi Allsop said, who has three school aged children. Her biggest concern is for her fourth grader who has learning disabilities.

“When schools closed down it was so hard. My son, he couldn’t do the online learning. We were frustrated. We cried, we cried a lot to be completely honest,” she said.

She doesn’t agree with mandating masks.

“Asking children ages two and up, those with disabilities, those without disabilities, I kind of think it’s a joke really,” she said.

Wearing masks in school could mean saving a grandparent, mother of two Suzy Jacobson, said.

“I know it’s not comfortable, we are still getting used to it. It’s difficult. But it’s such a small thing to ask and it can make such a big difference,” she said.

The Utah Education Association announced Thursday in a news release they support Governor Herbert’s decision to mandate masks in schools.

“Teachers are rightly concerned about returning to school this fall unless the school districts are prepared and taking proper precautions to protect students and staff,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews. “Today’s proclamation by Gov. Herbert requiring masks in public schools is a welcome step in the right direction.”

Many school districts across the state have released their re-opening plans but not all have ahead of the Aug 1 deadline.

There are some requirements and some suggestions from the Utah State Board of Education but the rest falls on the districts, spokesperson Mark Peterson said.

“Among those requirements are if a student or teacher is immune compromised or living with someone who is immune compromised, there be some sort of allowance for distance learning or alternative learning,” he said.

If parents are interested in distance learning, they should first contact their school, Peterson said. If they are not happy with those options, parents can look into homeschooling or enroll their children in one of Utah’s online charter schools.

  • Mountain Heights Academy (Grades 7-12) [mountainheightsacademy.org]
  • Utah Online School (Grades K-12) [utahonline.org]
  • Utah Virtual Academy (Grades K-12) [utva.k12.com]
  • Utah Connections Academy (Grades K-12) [connectionsacademy.com]

For the latest information on Covid-19 response in Utah schools, click here.