While state health officials say they will match CDC guidance for K-12 masks, Gov. Ducey voices opposition

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona's Department of Health Services says our state will match the CDC mask guidelines for K-12 students, despite Gov. Ducey's mandate against them.

"Everyone in a K-12 setting, teachers, staff and students, should wear a mask," said ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. "I think the masks provide another layer of protection."

Christ's statements came following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday. The CDC is now recommending that people in areas with "high" or "substantial" COVID-19 transmission should resume wearing masks indoors. That includes the recommendation that K-12 students mask up when they return to campus. This comes as the number of COVID-19 cases spike around the country and in our state. On Tuesday, Arizona had 1,475 new cases and a dozen more deaths. 

CDC recommends encouraging everyone to wear a mask in school, regardless of vaccination status

However, Gov. Ducey responded by saying, "Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated."

The Arizona legislature recently passed a law that prohibits schools from requiring masks on campus, and that is raising concerns with some parents like Erica Moriarty of Phoenix. Moriarty is worried about her kids health and safety when they're back in class in a couple of weeks.

"It's very concerning," said Moriarty. "I feel like the hands were tied of people who are meant to keep my children safe, and with the number of cases we had last school year, I think that proves how well the masks do work."

"This is just another example of the Biden-Harris administration’s inability to effectively confront the COVID-19 pandemic," Ducey said in a statement. "Public health officials in Arizona and across the country have made it clear that the best protection against COVID-19 is the vaccine."

"Today’s announcement by the CDC will unfortunately only diminish confidence in the vaccine and create more challenges for public health officials 一 people who have worked tirelessly to increase vaccination rates," he continued. "Here in Arizona, we’ve been consistent from the beginning: Arizonans should get this vaccine. Over 51 percent of our population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and over 46 percent are fully vaccinated."

Superintendent Kathy Hoffman calls on Gov. Ducey to follow CDC guidelines

Ducey says our state health officials will continue to work to distribute this vaccine to Arizonans and build public confidence in its effectiveness, despite this unnecessary and unhelpful “guidance” from Washington, D.C."

"I don't think masks should be political," said Moriarty. "I think it should be up to each school district to decide what is best and safe, with the input of parents. Right now, legislators are taking away that power that I had to keep my child safe."

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