(PHOENIX) — The school year began on Monday in classrooms across the Phoenix Union High School District, and despite Arizona’s ban on mask mandates, students and staff were all wearing masks indoors in adherence to the district’s mitigation requirements.
On June 30, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law prohibiting mask mandates in Arizona schools. But since the signing, there has been a dramatic uptick in the number of COVID-19 infections across the country.
Arizona has seen its daily case average increase by 327% in the last month, and hospitalizations are now at their highest point since early February, with more than 1,400 patients currently receiving care, according to federal data.
Given the changing circumstances, several districts in Arizona are now opting to require masks, as recommended by the updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for “localities to encourage universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
Dr. Chad Gestson, superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District, has vowed that he will do whatever he feels is best for the health and safety of his students and staff, including defying the governor’s orders, and thus requiring face coverings in classrooms.
“This decision — all decisions that we made — but this particular one is not about defiance. It’s ultimately about science,” Gestson told ABC News.
According to state law, the law prohibiting mask