Herbert mandates masks for K-12 schools; stops short of statewide public mandate

Jul 9, 2020, 12:39 PM | Updated: 1:16 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert stopped short of issuing a statewide mandate for Utahns to wear masks in public, but said the state will require students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear masks inside all K-12 schools this fall, including charter schools. 

Three Utah counties currently require masks to be worn in public. Herbert said they requested that power, which the state granted, in part because he believes local officials should make those decisions.   

“It’s the curveball of all curveballs that have been thrown at us,” Herbert said of the pandemic. 

Statewide mandate — for schools only, for now

Previously, Herbert had made the wearing of a face-covering only mandatory for state workers, and those doing business within state government buildings.

In a news conference on Thursday, Herbert said, “This pandemic has really been a unique situation we’ve never really seen in Utah, certainly in the last hundred years.”

“We’re finding from our science, our medicine and our healthcare providers is that one of the best ways we can reduce the transmission of the coronavirus is, in fact, to wear a face covering.

“The percentage of the likelihood of transmitting or catching [the virus] goes down dramatically if we follow what most of us would think is just a common-sense application.”

The mandate for masks in schools statewide will also apply to buses. 

Governor issues challenge but stops short of statewide mandate

Herbert said that he has the constitutional authority to mandate the wearing of masks, but he would not do that at this time.

“This is an issue that’s been tested by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution and the Supreme Court has weighed in on this.

“At this time, I choose not to make it a mandate. I’m going to give the people of Utah an opportunity to show the kind of people and the character that they have and which I believe we’ve demonstrated in times past.”

Herbert said he’s calling on the people of Utah to bring the state’s rolling average of new cases of COVID-19 below 500 before August 1. He says that if that doesn’t happen, they may have to take greater action. 

He says that he doesn’t want this to be a divisive issue, and hopes masks will become less of a political issue. 

“It’s just good, common sense. It’s wisdom that we should practice. I choose to say let’s let the people make those decisions.

“Here’s the opportunity for us the people to control our own destiny,” Herbert said.

“I believe in you as we work together, wash your hands, wear the mask, put our shoulder to the wheel push along, push along, all of us working together, we can conquer this.”

Mistakes were made

Herbert says that he thinks that while the state has done a good job in preparing what he called the most comprehensive plan in the nation, there are things that the state could have done better. Specifically, he said it may have been a mistake to define Utah’s color-coded response system to the virus by “risk.” 

“I appreciate the work of the people of Utah,” Herbert said. “A better way to have said it… would have been ‘restrictions.'”

According to Herbert, now that most of the state is in the “yellow” stage, a lot of people heard yellow means “low risk, and stopped taking basic precautions.

“We’ve probably dropped our guard a little bit, become complacent,” Herbert said. 

“One of the best ways we can reduce the transmission of the coronavirus is in fact to wear a face covering,” Herbert said, adding that the risk goes down dramatically if we all do it. “The concern we have today is that our infection rates have gone up.”

Noting that Utah normally tops lists in the country for volunteerism and charitable giving, he asked all Utahns to do their part to reverse the trend. 

“I believe in the people of Utah. There’s no greater caring people in America, maybe the world,” he said. 

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

Cloud Seeding (Utah Department of Natural Resources Division of Water Resources)...

Lindsay Aerts

State preps for cloud seeding incoming winter storm

SALT LAKE CITY — With winter weather expected Friday morning, Utah is preparing to maximize the water it can pull from the clouds. Cloud seeding is a technique the state uses to release natural chemicals into the clouds to pull more moisture out of them. Utah has an extensive network of cloud seeding stations and […]

7 hours ago

Dan Whalen, vice president of design and development for Harbor Bay Ventures, shows a rendering of ...

Carter Williams,

Developers unveil 240-foot Sugar House building, sparking criticism from many residents

SALT LAKE CITY — Developers behind a proposal to create a new zone for their property that would nearly triple the maximum height allowed in the Sugar House neighborhood’s business district contend their project won’t be quite as high as the possible 305-foot maximum. However, what they presented Wednesday drew audible gasps and groans from […]

8 hours ago

eight-year-old falls from second-story window in Eagle Mountain...

Derrick Jones

Eight-year-old falls from second-story window in Eagle Mountain

eight-year-old falls from second-story window in Eagle Mountain

10 hours ago

Poinsettias are displayed during Christmas mass at The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels...

Derrick Jones

Poinsettias, the Christmas flower, have a long history

Poinsettias have become synonymous with Christmastime, but that's not all the beautiful red and green flowers are known for.

10 hours ago

Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson speaks at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. ...

Simone Seikaly

Utah Lt. Gov. extends filing deadline for unaffiliated presidential candidates

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson has agreed to extend the Utah filing deadline for unaffiliated presidential candidates to March 5, 2024.

12 hours ago

wildlife overpasses...

Curt Gresseth

Feds give Utah $5.5M to build wildlife crossings near Kanab

A UDOT wildlife expert discusses building successful animal crossings to reduce collisions with vehicles.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Herbert mandates masks for K-12 schools; stops short of statewide public mandate