SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A group of concerned parents and lawmakers were seen rallying outside the Utah State Board of Education in support of a mask mandate in schools.
Although the power to issue a mask mandate is now at the hands of local health departments and elected county officials, the parents who gathered say they hope the board sends a message of support.
“They have contacts, they have a vested interest in making sure our kids are safe throughout the school year and have the best education possible,” says Chris Phillips a parent who organized the rally. “They are not skipping back and forth between remote learning and in person learning like we were seeing so much last year.”
Phillips and 500 other parents, concerned about the rise of the Delta variant in Utah, sent a signed letter to the board, calling on them to support a mask mandate for students under the age of twelve.
For some the fall term begins in a couple weeks. Some state Democratic lawmakers support the law that leaves the decision up to local officials.
“In the last two weeks I’ve started receiving a lot of emails from concerned parents as they are preparing to return to school and are not certain of what the requirements are going to be and they are concerned for their children’s safety,” (D) Rep. Gay Lynn Bennion explains. “Unfortunately, the legislation passed by the state legislature gives the power, keeps the power to our local health departments to decide what’s best for our children.”
The state health department has issued new guidelines calling on schools to strongly encourage students to wear masks and those students who are eligible to get vaccinated.
The Governor backs that up and says masks will be made available to all students who want one.
As of 10 a.m. Friday, the State Board of Education has yet to respond to our request for comment.