SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE

Lone Democrat Supervisor issues support for school mask rules

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The lone Democrat serving on the Maricopa Board of Supervisors issued support Friday morning for school districts considering campus mask requirements.

District 5 Supervisor Steve Gallardo, whose district includes the southwestern part of the county with cities such as Tolleson, Gila Bend and portions of Glendale, Buckeye, Avondale and southwestern Phoenix, said public health has to be the first priority in a pandemic.

The statement came after Phoenix Union High School District announced it was instituting a mask requirements for students and staff. The move comes after the state legislature passed a bill signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey that sought to ban districts from imposing mask requirements.

”With cases rising across our county, including among children, schools are right to insist on facial masks to create the safest environment for staff and students to learn,” Gallardo said in his statement. “I know we all want kids back in the classroom, and we’d all like to get back to a place where masks aren’t necessary. But we have to deal with reality as it is. The delta variant is the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Maricopa County, and it is more contagious than others we’ve seen.”

Gallardo pointed out children younger than age 12 still can’t get vaccinated.

“School leaders must trust the experts like those at the CDC saying all K-12 students and staff should mask up on campus,” Gallardo said. “I support Phoenix Union High School District and other Arizona school districts planning to require masks on the first day of school.”

Other districts around the Valley have worked on plans to deal with rising COVID-19 cases, including developing new plans for quarantines.

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