Park City Education Association Teachers Call For Masks In Schools
The incoming co-presidents of Park City’s largest teachers’ union say most members surveyed support mask requirements in elementary schools.
Based on responses, Jake Jobe and Mary Morgan encourage the Summit County Council to reinstate a mask mandate, if possible.
Park City schools will welcome students back next week. In a survey, 73% of Park City Education Association teachers who responded think elementary students should have to wear masks, since most are too young to be vaccinated.
“We feel like masks in schools are a way to push us past this pandemic,” says Jake Jobe, union co-president who also teaches English at Park City High School. “So, in surveying our members, the members that we’ve surveyed would like to see masks in schools K-12. Part of that is because, you know, our schools aren’t silos. High school students have siblings who are elementary students. We have members who have children who are elementary students. So, our whole goal is to keep those kids safe and keep them in person. It’s better to be in person than online, and we think masks are a great barrier to that, along with vaccines.”
Masks mandates were banned by the Utah Legislature in May.
But Jobe says if the Summit County Council can issue another mask mandate based on advice from the county health department, it should do so.
“We would urge them to do so because of student safety and because of student safety. We know this is divisive, but it comes out of love of the kids. People are passionate on both sides, and it’s because it’s about children. We just want kids to be safe and to be able to learn effectively, so we would urge the health department to do that.”
The Centers for Disease Control classifies Summit County’s transmission level as “substantial” now. It also says all students in America who can’t get vaccinated should wear masks, a recommendation also supported by the Utah Health Department and American Academy of Pediatrics.
The Utah Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers Utah Union also support masks for unvaccinated students.
Children ages 11 and below are still not eligible to get the vaccine.
There isn’t school-specific knowledge on how many eligible students are vaccinated, nor is there for teachers. Neither group is required to get the vaccine to come to school.
But Jobe says based on general vaccination rates in Summit County for students 12 through 18, it could be around 60% of them who are vaccinated. He says his impression is that “most” teachers in the schools are.
If there are 30 COVID-19 cases within 14 days in any school, that would trigger the Test-to-Stay policy, which requires all students be tested regularly and receive negative results in order to return to school in person.