Salt Lake County health board calls for mask mandate for public school students in grades K-6

Board calls a masks order “important to defending” well being of scholars.

FILE – On this Aug. 17, 2020, file picture, college students stroll into Liberty Elementary Faculty in the course of the first day of sophistication in Murray, Utah. (AP Photograph/Rick Bowmer, File)

The Salt Lake County Board of Well being is urging native leaders to require masks for kindergartners via sixth-graders attending county public colleges this fall to assist forestall COVID-19 from sweeping via school rooms of unvaccinated college students.

The well being board Thursday morning voted unanimously to ship a letter supporting a mandate to county Mayor Jenny Wilson and the Salt Lake County Council.

“A masks requirement for college kids in kindergarten via sixth grade is important to defending their well being, as they don’t seem to be but eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. Salt Lake County has had 11,529 of instances in youngsters below 12 years, 58 required hospitalization, 27 have been identified with MIS-C, and 1 has died,” the board wrote within the letter. “With out prevention measures, the variety of youngsters with COVID-19 will undoubtedly develop a lot greater as soon as faculty begins.”

Below a regulation handed by state legislators earlier this 12 months, the well being division can put ahead a public well being order requiring face coverings in school rooms, however the county council can instantly overturn it. And whereas Dr. Angela Dunn, head of the county well being division and former state epidemiologist, has warned that failing to take prevention measures will imply extra youngsters find yourself hospitalized, she’s made clear she received’t situation a public well being order if it’s going to be vetoed by the council.

“Given the … limitations, it’s important to safe your help previous to the issuance of a masks requirement,” the well being board wrote.

Whereas native well being boards usually have management over their well being departments’ actions, the legislature’s new regulation offers the facility to provoke restrictions in well being emergencies to native well being “departments.”

The Salt Lake County District Legal professional’s workplace has suggested the county’s board of well being that the wording means they can not merely vote to situation a masks order; solely Dunn, because the division director, can try this. Even when she does, it’s unclear whether or not a masks mandate would ever make its manner into school rooms.

County leaders are coming below intense lobbying from anti-mask teams who’re vehemently against a face masking mandate in colleges. Earlier this week, masks opponents packed a Salt Lake County Council assembly and spent hours testifying towards such necessities, which they see as authorities interference of their parenting choices.

However high-risk households and others anxious about sending their unvaccinated elementary-age children to high school are clamoring for universal masking — saying that letting college students decide out would put others at better danger of contracting COVID-19.

This story will probably be up to date. | Salt Lake County well being board requires masks mandate for public faculty college students in grades Okay-6

Huynh Nguyen

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