Mask mandate causes uproar

Using the promise of funding to schools who stay open in person instead of staying online, and get rid of mask mandates, is an abuse of power from our state government that puts the lives of students, parents, and faculty at risk.

David Lane, news editor

On September 29, Governor Ducey’s budget plan will take effect. The plan provides additional funding to any school that has in person learning and does not have a mask or vaccine mandate. Ducey has allocated $163 million to fund this grant program. This plan would also cut funding to schools that do not comply with the grant requirements.
According to NPR, “Schools that have mask mandates or have closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks are not eligible for the program and risk losing the additional $1,800 per student.”
This policy blatantly disregards the severity of the current global pandemic and only to those who are ignoring scientific research in favor of their own belief that personal freedom comes before the lives of their fellow Americans.
The Arizona Department of Health states that COVID-19 cases have increased to levels similar to July of 2020, when a statewide mask mandate was officially introduced in order to combat the rise in cases.
With the growing number of cases as a result of the Delta variant, there is no reason to assume that the cases will decline without affirmative action being taken to curb the spread of the newer, more transmissible form of the virus.
The Delta variant spreads over twice as efficiently as older versions of COVID-19, and should not be taken lightly. The center of disease control recommends masks in areas of,“substantial or high transmission.”
Some individuals feel that if mask mandates or vaccination requirements are put in place, then schools will be able to discriminate against students who do not conform to these criteria. After all, these are choices the student or their parents made for themselves and should not be pushed onto others.
Ensuring the safety of others in a public space is not a matter of debate. If the governing body of Arizona wants to put an end to the death and disease brought upon us by COVID-19, they need to stop treating this disease outbreak differently than the plethora of other diseases that have required vaccines.
A chart from the Arizona Department of Health shows that children as young as four years old are required to have some form of vaccination before attending public school. It also shows that vaccines for once terrifying illnesses such as polio and measles are required for all students K-12.
District officials should follow the recommendations of scientists about the safest way to operate schools in the face of a pandemic. Putting ill-informed politics ahead of student’s safety is a dangerous road to go down and could potentially lead to thousands of children catching and spreading the virus to one another as well as to adults, leading to a rise in cases, and in effect, a rise in deaths.
The funding Governor Ducey plans to withhold from the schools is not even state money; it’s a grant from the federal government. Since it does not come from state raised money, the state government should have no place in regulating where it goes. Ducey is misusing his influence in order to push his party’s reckless politics.