The Utah Legislature passed House Bill 294 in March. Most people are familiar with the part of the bill that says the state can no longer require masks in most public places after April 10.
But the mask requirement stays in place for K-12 schools until June 15. Local officials, like a school board or county council, do NOT have the legal authority to end the mask requirement in schools before this date. Public health officials asked the Legislature (and the Legislature agreed) to keep a mask requirement in place for the following reasons:
- No vaccine is currently authorized for anyone younger than 16.
- Not every adult in the school setting has been vaccinated.
- Children can get sick from COVID and have long-term effects.
- Children can get COVID, not feel sick, and transmit the illness to people at home who aren’t vaccinated yet.
Schools are planning in-person proms, activities, and graduations, which can only happen if we continue to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Wearing masks is one of the easiest and best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We should continue wearing masks until more people have a chance to get vaccinated, including children and teens. School districts should continue to work with their local health departments to ensure the health and safety of all of Utah’s school-aged children.
Masks work to slow the spread of COVID and they help keep kids doing what they want to do. Let’s give the class of 2021 something we couldn’t give to the class of 2020.