Salt Lake City begins classes with school mask mandate in effect

Aug 24, 2021, 12:54 PM | Updated: 2:41 pm
west high school salt lake city mask mandate...
West High School on the first day of school, August 24 2021. Photo: Paul Nelson, KSL NewsRadio

SALT LAKE CITY — Classes start today in the Salt Lake City School District, and district officials say a mask mandate is in full effect. 

How strictly will the mandate be enforced inside the schools?  Educators say they don’t want to be heavy-handed in sending students home.

Mask mandate in play on first day of school in Salt Lake

Officials with the Salt Lake City School District say this year’s mandate may be more confusing than last year’s. Spokesman Jason Olsen says schools all across Utah required masks last year; this year, only two districts have a mandate. (The other mandate covers Grand County schools.)

Olsen says it could be especially confusing since Salt Lake City has a school mask mandate but Salt Lake County doesn’t.

“We have spent a lot of effort getting the message out to our parents,” Olsen said.  “We just want to make sure our students are able to get an education in a way that’s safe and healthy for them.”

What happens to those who don’t comply?

He acknowledges not every Salt Lake student will want to comply with the mask requirement at school. 

“Both sides of this issue have strong opinions, with some saying, ‘We won’t comply,’ and some saying, ‘This is the best thing, ever, to happen,’” Olsen acknowledged. 

However, he says they don’t plan to be confrontational when a student doesn’t comply.  Masks will be made available for students who forget them, and he doesn’t want to speculate what would need to happen for a student to be sent home.

“Our goal is not to see somebody not wearing a mask and sending them home,” according to Olsen.  “If the student is not wearing a mask in school, we will kindly ask them to put on a mask.  We’ll explain that the mandate from the mayor is in place.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has received sharp criticism for issuing a mask mandate in schools within city limits.  House Majority Whip Mike Schultz issued a statement saying Mendenhall has no authority over education policy.  The statement reads, in part: 

There is no public safety threat, no disaster, and no threat of a disaster to justify her order mandating masks in schools. She hasn’t been granted blanket authority to do whatever she wants. Her order is NOT enforceable.

Today’s Top Stories


In this Saturday, June 29, 2019, photo, Christy Belt, Timpanogos Academy 5th grade teacher, engages...
Curt Gresseth

Preparing and training for school emergencies

A Be Ready Utah expert discusses preparing for school emergencies, the need to have a plan ready and a list of items needed to safely handle disasters when they happen because they do.
2 days ago
Brighton High school pictured.. Utah school safety has changed since Uvalde....
Lindsay Aerts and Elizabeth Weiler

Canyon School District making safety a top priority for the new year

The Canyons School District implemented some changes over the summer after an internal audit of its safety measures.
2 days ago
An open book on a table in the library...
Jessica Lowell

Alpine School District restricts 52 library books

The Alpine School District recently put restrictions on 52 library books, many of which represent marginalized communities.
2 days ago
The Canyons School District is pictured. Its starting the year with a teacher shortage...
Adam Small

Canyons School District starting the year with a teacher and staff shortage

Canyons School District will start of the school year with a teacher and staff shortage. The district has over 150 openings.
3 days ago
Back-to-school shopping display is pictured....
Lindsay Aerts

Back-to-school shopping this year will have families navigating rising prices

Back-to-school shopping will be a little more expensive this year as families navigate rising prices.
4 days ago
children at an assembly pictured. The first day of school is coming up...
Samantha Herrera

First day of school dates for schools along the Wasatch Front

The first day of the 2022-2023 school is just weeks away for most school districts along the Wasatch Front. Here's a list of those days.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Salt Lake City begins classes with school mask mandate in effect