Education

Valley students, teachers offer differing opinions on school mask mandates

Posted 12/1/21

After an Arizona judge ruled Arizona’s ban of mask and vaccine requirements ‘unconstitutional,’ public schools, community colleges and universities were left with a decision to …

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Education

Valley students, teachers offer differing opinions on school mask mandates

Posted

After an Arizona judge ruled Arizona’s ban of mask and vaccine requirements ‘unconstitutional,’ public schools, community colleges and universities were left with a decision to make.

Valley residents have different ideas, however, over whether those kind of mandates work.

The overturning of bill on public school mask mandates, as well as other subjects written by Republican lawmakers, was deemed unconstitutional this fall allowing public schools to determine if their students, staff and visitors must wear masks or get vaccinated to be on campus.

This law also included a ban on vaccine requirements for public universities, community colleges and local governments, all according to the judge’s ruling.

This ruling, which tossed the law because it was grouped with several others in what is known as a budget omnibus bill, now affects all the students, visitors and staff members of local schools, buildings and universities. This means they could either be forced to wear masks or get vaccines to visit campus, or they will have a choice.

This law also essentially gave the governmental officials more jurisdiction over the state’s COVID-19 policies and restrictions. The law, originally set to go into effect late September, was overturned by Maricopa Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper.

“The issue here is not what the Legislature decided but how it decided what it did,” Cooper wrote.

Under the Arizona constitution, all bills passed by the legislature must include a single provision and include that in the bill’s title. Cooper ruled that the because the budget bills included multiple legislative changes, it violated the state constitution of bills covering more than one subject.

 In the bill, an “array of provisions are in no way related to nor connected with one another or to an identifiable ‘budget procedure,’” Cooper wrote, according to NPR. 

Ducey’s spokesperson labeled the decision, “an example of judicial overreach,” in a released statement.

“Arizona’s state government operates with three branches, and it’s the duty and authority of only the legislative branch to organize itself and to make laws,” said spokesman CJ Karamargin in the release.

He called the conclusion “the result of a rogue judge interfering with the authority and processes of another branch of government.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services continues to recommend residents to wear a mask in public and get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

“The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed. Getting vaccinated will also help keep you from getting COVID-19,” ADHS said.

How students and the public feel about the move is divided. Presley Hopkins, a freshman at Perry High School in the Chandler Unified School District, said the removal of COVID-19 restrictions in Arizona is necessary.

“Ducey is making a good decision of wanting to remove restrictions of COVID-19,” she said. “This belief is smart because it’s been going on for a long time.”

Hopkins does not view the restrictions of coronavirus to be beneficial. In addition, Hopkins said schools should make it optional to wear a mask or to get vaccinated.

“So, if a parent wants their kid to wear a mask they can,” Hopkins said.

She explained that it should be left to parents to decide if their child gets vaccinated as well.

Perry High School English teacher Damien Tippett said he believed the court ruling was correct and how the entire budget did not feel right to him.

Regarding Ducey’s belief and involvement in this issue, it seemed to Tippett, Ducey is “pandering to his political base,” Tippett said. “It has felt that he has toed the line between politics and leadership throughout this entire pandemic.”

“He has not impressed me at all throughout any of this and holding school’s hostage through additional funding is one of the dirtiest things I have seen in politics,” Tippett said.

Tippett referenced the statistics and facts of the lacking amount of focus on funding and spending on education in Arizona.

“It is also really disgusting that he cannot fund education in Arizona – we are back down to 48 in the nation – until he wants to force his agenda on school districts; then he suddenly has funding, as long as the districts will not mandate masks,” he said.

Due to recent data Arizona is now 49 in the nation, according to Education Data.org.

This is a battle between science and politics. When it comes to the determination of each public schools’ induvial mandates, Tippett wished to see more people following the same beliefs.

“I would love to see everyone be on the same page,” he said.

Leaving decisions regarding mask mandates up to school last year, was a weak move in Tippett’s opinion. Being an educator, he believes it made their job much more difficult.

“A full mandate would have made things much less contentious for underpaid individuals – and in board members’ cases, volunteers,” Tippett said.

“Allowing districts to decide at this point seems to be the right direction since there is precedent,” Tippett said. “Nobody wants to be in masks, but until Covid is under control – most plausibly through vaccinations – we have to take care of each other as a community. I don’t want to wear them to teach in, but if it keeps my students and families safer, I will do it.”

Gilbert residents affected by this ruling do not all agree on its decision.

Alex Edjourian, a sophomore at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, is in favor of the removal of coronavirus restrictions.

“I could care less about wearing a mask indoors to make people around me feel comfortable,” Edjourian said.

Edjourian goes to a community college, meaning, if CGCC decides to enforce facial coverings or vaccinations to attend in person, he and other students will have to comply.

If CGCC forced him to get vaccinated, Edjourian would feel “betrayed because forcing a foreign substance to be injected into the people who help the government stand, shouldn’t have their free choice tarnished,” he said. “But, if I was forced to get the vaccine, I’d just do online classes to avoid it.”

Edjourian said he believes the vaccinated along with the unvaccinated individuals should be free to make their own decision.

“I feel like we can return back to a cautious way of life,” Edjourian said.

Aubrey Clark, also a sophomore at CGCC,  said she believes masks are not bad; however, she would prefer not to wear one.

“I don’t think any school should require to make anyone vaccinated,” Clark said. “That takes away from human rights to their own body.”

Like Edjourian, Clark believes everyone has the individual choice, if they want to be vaccinated or wear a mask.

“No one should be required to do anything they do not want to do. Whether it’s wearing a mask or even getting vaccinated. It takes away from human rights,” Clark said.

Mea Griffin is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.

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