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Students in Salt Lake City School District won’t be disciplined for not wearing masks

(File photo: First grader Kash Zechman chats with Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Timothy Gadson III while he tours Nibley Park School in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — So, are masks required in the Salt Lake City School District, or not? 

District officials say they still want students to keep their faces covered while in class, but it doesn’t appear that kids will get in trouble if they don’t. 

When the school year started, officials with the Salt Lake City School District said they would be following Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s orders requiring masks inside the classrooms.  However, there were questions about how strictly the code would be enforced.  Some parents tell KSL they were told by their principals that all children who refuse to wear one would be put into a waiting area until someone could take them home.

No discipline

However, District Spokesman Jason Olsen confirms they have instructed their educators not to discipline students who won’t wear one.  He tells KSL their main goal is to keep students in class, where teaching is most effective.

He said, “The thing we don’t want to do is escalate a situation and a disagreement about a mask.  We don’t want to shame students.”

The best tools

Olsen says the district still believes vaccines and masks are the best tools they have to limit the spread of COVID-19, and, they plan to educate children about masks every chance they get.

“That’s also the place we can teach them and encourage them and show them that masks are very important, and the best way they can keep themselves and their friends healthy,” Olsen said.  “We will take every opportunity we can to teach them about masks and inform them about the mayor’s order.”

Strong opinions

Olsen acknowledges parents have strong opinions about mask mandates, either for or against.  However, he says students aren’t as polarized.

“What we have seen, as we’ve gone out into our schools, is that almost every single student and all of our employees are wearing masks.  They’re interacting with each other, they’re engaging and they’re learning, and that’s what we want to happen,” Olsen said.

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