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Tooele County issues mask order for schools meeting COVID-19 threshold

FILE: Entrance of the Tooele County Health Department. Photo credit: Paul Nelson

TOOELE, Utah  — The Tooele County Health Department has issued a mask order for schools that meet a particular COVID-19 case threshold. 

Under Senate Bill 107, passed earlier this year by the Utah Legislature, county health departments can issue such orders for schools experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. 

The order states that masks must be worn for 30 days if: 

  • 2% of students in a school with 1,500 or more students test positive for COVID-19
  • 30 or more students in a school with fewer than 1,500 students test positive for COVID-19

Tooele health officials said only students who test positive and attended some in-person class over a 14-day period would be counted toward the threshold. 

Other counties issuing similar orders

The Summit County Health Department issued a nearly identical order last month. There, the same criteria must be met before masks can be required in a school. 

The Salt Lake City School District is skipping the case threshold requirement and mandating masks be worn in all its schools this year. 

Are masks effective in schools? 

University of Utah Health released a study last month showing the effectiveness of masking in public schools. 

A pediatric infectious disease specialist with the healthcare network said the COVID-19 transmission rate is less than 1% in schools where masks are used frequently. He adds masks are the best way to protect each other, especially those who are not vaccinated.

In the study, an assistant professor of psychiatry with the Huntsman Mental Health Institute said there is no evidence wearing masks will lead to depression or anxiety in children. 

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