Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has removed the statewide mask mandate in schools for the last week of classes.
School districts have seen mounting pressure from some parents who don’t agree with the statewide mask mandate in grades K-12. But districts weren’t given the choice to mandate masks ... up until now. With cases declining throughout the state, and in schools, Cox announced Thursday local school districts can decide to enforce face coverings.
Park City School District announced they are not enforcing masks starting June 1. But they are asking families to consider keeping their children masked for the last three days of school. South Summit will also end their mask mandate May 24 for their last week of school.
North Summit School District hasn't made final decisions on whether or not to extend the mandate. Wasatch County School District didn’t respond to KPCW's media requests.
Cox said he has received many calls from superintendents to end the mask order.
"We believe that this is the right thing to do," Cox said. "We believe that this is the prudent thing to do. But I will say that masks are still encouraged and families and children will be able to make those decisions. And I would ask that parents and students and teachers that everyone be respectful of the choices that are made by those families for that last week for those that decide that they want to wear masks, please do so and we encourage you to do so."
Cox said his team has been discussing removing the mandate for months, and masks will still be required for the time leading up to the last week of school.
"So look, there's the reasons for this," he said. "Again, there are a lot of people and rightly so that really, really want their kids to be able to have some time with their teachers. I think about kids in elementary school that haven't been able to see their teachers face and their friends faces, that that stuff matters, it's really important."
He said vaccinations also played a role in the decision. Teachers and students over 16-years-old have had access to vaccines. And starting Thursday, 12-15-year-olds are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.
This story is developing and KPCW will continue to update it as more information becomes available.