PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - As classes begin in the upcoming days or weeks, Arizona schools are taking different approaches to the recent rise in COVID cases.
Starting Monday in the Kyrene School District, facial coverings are now required at schools and district facilities. For Kyrene Middle Schooler Tighe Brennan, that's not much of an issue.
"If it's keeping people safe, then I'm completely willing to put on a piece of cloth for seven hours a day," Brennan said.
The district announced the change following a new CDC and Maricopa County Department of Public Health guidance about quarantine and isolation periods.
The school district made the announcement with the recent change to CDC guidelines in mind. When the CDC lowered the suggested isolation time last week from ten days to five days but required face coverings, the Kyrene School District decided that this adjustment —along with high COVID numbers in the area — was enough for the district to make a change.
"Just happy to see that they've taken a moderate, sensible approach to controlling the spread of the virus," Tighe's father Patrick said. "And not implementing more Draconian measures like shutting down school."
A few miles to the north, the Scottsdale Unified School District also plans on changing their facial covering policy as classes get underway. But rather than continue requiring masks, they will now 'strongly recommend' them.
"This is great and long overdue," SUSD parent Carine Werner said. "At the end of the day, people have to choose whether they want to wear a mask or not."
Even as Omicron cases rise, Werner thinks wearing masks in the classroom does more harm than good for students.
Soaring coronavirus infections mean the return from schools’ winter break will be different than planned for some as administrators again tweak protocols and make real-time adjustments in response to the shifting pandemic.
"At the end of the day, they have to learn. And we can't hold them back anymore," Werner said. "This has been going on for almost two years, and so this is their time to go back and dive back in and learn at the highest level that they can."
To that, seventh-grader Tighe has this to say in response:
"I'm not like, oh, we have to go to school again with a mask on!" Brennan said. "People are fine wearing masks. And we have been."
There are some exceptions for the Kyrene School District for this face covering requirement, including those who have trouble breathing or can't take a facial covering off by themselves.