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City council extends mask mandate for Salt Lake City schools

(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  — Students will continue to mask up in Salt Lake City public schools, after the city council voted to extend the mask mandate issued by Mayor Erin Mendenhall last month. 

The vote was 6-1 in favor.  Councilman James Rogers was the only vote against the measure, saying, “It should be on the school board.  Those educated people who were elected to be doing this.”

Other council members did not disagree with Rogers, but said because of changes to state law forbidding school districts from issuing a blanket mask mandate, the matter rested with local governments and health officials instead. 

Salt Lake City School District mask mandate extended

Much of the discussion around the mask mandate for K-12 students in Salt Lake City wasn’t about IF kids should be wearing masks in the classroom. It was for how long they should be.

Several council members said they wanted more direction from medical officials.  Specifically, they wanted to hear from Dr. Angela Dunn, the executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department.  

Ultimately, Salt Lake City Council members voted on a compromise, extending the mayor’s mask mandate another 30 days until they can learn more from Dunn and other health officials. That means it will stay in place for Salt Lake students through at least Oct. 15.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall pointed out earlier this week that the city’s school district averages fewer COVID-19 cases than any other district in Salt Lake County. The Salt Lake district is the only one in the county with a mask requirement. 

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Obtain a flu shot.
  • Seek out the COVID-19 vaccine.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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