SCOTTSDALE (3TV/CBS 5) - The Scottsdale Unified School District held a special virtual meeting on Tuesday evening. One of the most anticipated elements of the meeting revolved around a potential mask mandates for the school district. The Governing Board voted 4-1 in favor of a mask mandate for students and staff inside buildings. It'll go into effect on Friday. If students violate the rule, it'll count as a dress code violation.
Before the meeting even started, dozens of people showed up outside the District's office on East Jackrabbit Road, honking car horns and waving American flags to fight for what they think is right.
Trish Olson and Valerie Shannon are two SUSD parents that showed up outside the District office. They acknowledge that more positive COVID-19 cases are happening within the Scottsdale Unified School District, but don't think this increase in cases warrants eliminating a parent or student's right to choose what's best for them. "More than 600 have been quarantined, and that's obviously concerning," Olson said. "But out of 20,000 students, that's a pretty small number."
"The kids statistically are fine," Shannon added. "And so I'm wondering what the end game is here. Where's the off ramp?"
In a letter to district parents last Friday, district Superintendent Scott Menzel said that since the start of the school year on August 4, there have been 78 COVID cases. He also says there has been evidence of more on-campus transmission of the virus than what the district saw all of last year.
Menzel went on to say that he hoped families voluntarily agreed to wear masks. But Scottsdale parent Justin Sullins says these masks get in the way of kids having a productive in-person learning experience. "They need to see people's faces, they need to see people's facial expressions," Sullins said. "They need that warmth and that connection. And you don't get that with the masks."
But a few yards down the road, district parent Michelle Roddy thinks what the district is doing now isn't working. "We need effective mitigation strategies so that we can keep the school's open," Roddy said. "And I think that the board recognizes that."
One thing's for sure: whatever the district does next will have pretty extreme consequences for some. "If the district doesn't implement a mask mandate, for me I'm going to actually be unenrolling my children from school," Roddy said.
"The day they implement a mask mandate my daughter will be staying at home," Sullins said. "We'll be finding another school or homeschooling."
If Scottsdale Unified School District does implement a mask mandate, they'd be following the lead of other school districts like Phoenix Union and Flagstaff Unified that have already put this policy in place.