School mask mandates considered by other local health departments

Aug 11, 2021, 5:55 PM
school mask mandate...
FILE: Students at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in So. Salt Lake wear masks as they get on a bus to go home after their first day of school on Aug. 24, 2020. Photo credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A school mask mandate for kids younger than 12 has been recommended by health officials in Salt Lake County.  So does that mean other local health departments will follow Salt Lake County’s lead?  It’s a possibility. 

Those who spoke with KSL Newsradio said they have to speak with a lot of stakeholders before they make any kind of decision about recommending a school mask mandate.  For instance, Weber-Morgan Health Department Spokesperson Lori Buttars said they’re speaking with educators, hospital administrators, and concerned citizens about the possible impact. 

RELATED:  Salt Lake County Council likely to overturn mask mandate, chair says

Residents are evenly split for and against a school mask mandate, Buttars said, at least according to the email they’ve received. 

Even though a school mask mandate hasn’t been proposed for their jurisdiction, Buttars said it hasn’t been ruled out, either.

“We’re looking at keeping our schools open in the safest, least disruptive way,” she said.

Officials from the Tooele County Health Department, Davis County Health Department and the Bear River Health Department all told KSL that the discussions on proposing a mask mandate are “ongoing.”  Meanwhile, Buttars said they’ve set up COVID-19 vaccination clinics in schools, and are asking everyone who hasn’t been vaccinated to get their shots.

RELATED: CDC urges COVID vaccines during pregnancy as delta surges

“We still encourage people to go there.  We’ve got our own clinic open and we’re doing some additional outreach in the community,” Buttars said.

While the Salt Lake County Health Department has recommended a mandate in schools, for kids ages 12 and younger, some advocacy groups want a wider order that covers more students.  The Utah Public Health Association has called for universal masking in schools, even among students who have been vaccinated.  Spokesperson Carrie Butler said there is ample evidence showing mask mandates limit the spread of any virus.

“We saw the cases and the hospitalizations go down, particularly in Salt Lake County when we had a county-wide mask mandate,” Butler said.

Their group is also calling for state health officials to reinstate mask-wearing policies for indoor settings all across Utah.  Plus, they want the state to increase funding for more vaccination clinics.  Butler claims getting the vaccine isn’t as convenient as many people believe.

“It is really inconvenient to have to stop what you’re doing go to someplace and get jabbed in the arm,” she said.

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).
  • 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

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School mask mandates considered by other local health departments