Salt Lake County health officials: Masks required at school for kids under 12

Aug 10, 2021, 4:47 PM | Updated: Aug 11, 2021, 8:22 am
county to require masks for schools...
Dr. Angela Dunn, executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, asked Salt Lake County elected leaders Tuesday to require masks at school for children under the age of 12. Photo: Nick Wyatt, KSL
Utah’s Morning News will be talking to the Chairman of the Salt Lake County Council L. Steve DeBry  and State Senator Derek Kitchen. They will be discussing the new masks recommendations from the Salt Lake County Board of Health and the Mayor.

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County students under the age of 12 will need to wear masks in indoor spaces at school this fall, county health officials announced Tuesday — so long as local elected officials at the county and state level agree. 

Dr. Angela Dunn, the executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, told Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson she intended to order students under the age of 12 to wear masks at school on Tuesday. 

“I am focused on those who are ineligible for vaccination and have no other way to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Dunn. 

According to Dr. Dunn, this is the best way to protect kids, slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community, and ensure classes remain in person for the entire school year. 

Mask order for county schools not a done deal yet

The school mask order takes effect next week unless the Salt Lake County Council votes to overturn it. According to Utah state law enacted during a special legislative session earlier this year, such an order from a health department requires the agency to first notify a county chief executive of an intent to request a mask mandate. That notification is supposed to be given 24 hours before the request is formally submitted. 

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, the county chief executive in question, said she supports the order. 

“I will not terminate the request, which means this decision is now in the hands of the county council,” Mayor Wilson explained. 

That same state law dictates the Salt Lake County Council now has seven days to meet and consider the order. The council has called a meeting for Thursday, August 12. Mayor Wilson and Dr. Dunn hope the mask order will be left in place. 

Earlier in the day, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall wrote a letter to the Salt Lake County Council, urging them to support Dr. Dunn if she determined requiring masks in schools would be necessary. 

Even if the Salt Lake County Council decides to leave the order in place, the state legislature has the ability to intervene. 

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, 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.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • 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).
  • Obtain a flu shot.
  • Seek out the COVID-19 vaccine.

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

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Salt Lake County health officials: Masks required at school for kids under 12