‘It’s working’: Mendenhall talks mask requirement for Salt Lake City students

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall discussed the efficacy of her mask mandate for students in the city’s schools on Monday. Saying “it is working,” Mendenhall has asked the City Council to keep the mandate in effect when it is up for a vote on Tuesday.

In late August, Mendenhall enacted emergency powers to mandate masks in K-12 schools within the city.

“As Mayor, it is my responsibility to do everything I can to keep our City, and our school district, from going down the tragic and dangerous path many others are already on,” she said in her August 20 announcement. “I look forward to lifting this requirement when we reach safer levels of transmission and immunity. We will continue to work with health officials and rely on them to help us determine when the order can be lifted.”

Mendenhall’s move came days after she declared in a city council meeting she would implement her own mandate after seeking legal counsel and support from the school board. Earlier in the day, the Salt Lake City School District expressed its gratitude to Mendenhall for her willingness to enact a mask mandate in the city, despite obstacles preventing one from being instituted at the county and state levels.

Now, nearly a month later, Mendenhall says the mask mandate is working. Because of data shared by Salt Lake County Health Department, she is now asking the Salt Lake City Council to vote Tuesday to keep the emergency order in place.

“Today, I am encouraged to report that our school children in the Salt Lake City School District appear to be healthier and better able to stay in in-person learning than any other kids in Salt Lake County,” Mendenhall said Monday.

Mendenhall cited data from SLCo Health Department’s Dr. Angela Dunn shows the Salt Lake City School District has the lowest rate of COVID-19 cases since the first day of school among the county’s five school districts. According to Mendenhall, there is “overwhelming compliance” with the mandate with about 99.8% of students are wearing masks.

She continues, saying educators are reporting masks are not inhibiting students from engaging or socializing.

“I’ve also been hearing from families, hundreds of families in our school district who have sent me cards, phone calls, and notes, stopped me to let me know the peace of mind that they have sending their kids to school with this extra layer of protection,” Mendenhall adds, saying that because requiring masks is working, she has asked the City Council to vote to continue it.

When asked what would happen if the City Council strikes it down, Mendenhall says “we will have to explore that then.”

“I am hopeful that they will,” she says. “I think the data speaks clearly. We have seen the council be supportive of this 20 days ago when I issued it, or thereabouts, and I am hopeful that they will. If they don’t we will deal with that if that happens.”

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