SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) -The Salt Lake City Council has voted to extend its mask mandate for students K-12 within city limits until October 12th.
It’s the first time a legislative council has voted to extend a mask mandate under the state’s new laws.
Liberty Elementary Principal JaNeal Rodriguez with the SLC Classroom Chronicles says her staff supports anything that keeps kids in school.
“We are four weeks into school. The honeymoon is over, but that is typical of a normal school year, which feels so relieving that I can say a typical school year in many ways,” says adds.
Principal Rodriguez and her staff are celebrating a personal milestone, with no covid cases since the start of school.
“Masks are a great tool and we like that we can have that,” says Principal Rodriguez.
The Salt Lake City Council agrees. In a first for the state, the council voted 6-1 to extend Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s mask mandate through October 12.
Council Chair Amy Fowler says, “The majority of people who have reached out to me are in support of this.”
Councilmember James Rogers with the abstaining vote says, “I think we are forcing kids to do it. Hey if your kids want to wear masks all day I think you should do it. One of the reasons I think I push [for it] not to go back to the council is, I can’t wear a mask for eight hours, you know it is impossible for me to do that. So there are studies that say that it is not healthy for kids to be wearing a mask.”
Mayor Mendenhall says data shows 99 percent of students are wearing masks in classes, lowering the spread of the coronavirus.
Officials with Salt Lake City School District tell ABC4:
Since the start of school, we have been grateful for and supportive of Mayor Mendenhall’s order regarding masks in schools. Our goal is and has been to keep our schools open and our students in the classroom, and we feel wearing masks helps us reach that goal.
We are encouraged by the preliminary data that seems to show wearing masks, along with our other COVID-19 mitigation efforts (see our website for more information), is making a difference. We will continue to review the data as it emerges and work with the Salt Lake County Health Department to ensure we do all we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 among our students, families, and community.
Salt Lake Education Association President James Tobler tells us:
Salt Lake City educators applaud the decision of the Salt Lake City Council to extend Mayor Mendenhall’s mask mandate in Salt Lake schools, thank you! We appreciate the work of these elected officials to keep students and our community safe during this most recent COVID spike in our city. The overwhelming feedback from students is that wearing masks is not a hardship, and is well worth the inconvenience if it will help save even one life and/or improve the prospect of keeping our schools open.
Principal Rodriguez says regardless of the vote, her staff is going to continue to make a clean environment where students can learn.
Adding, “It keeps students in their seats and here at school learning. So anything to support that we are in favor of.”