Salt Lake mayor urges council to extend term of school masks

Citing success, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall urges city council to vote to continue a K-12 mask term in Salt Lake City on Monday. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Just over three weeks after issuing a mask warrant for K-12 schools, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall attributed the action to the school district that recorded the rates of lowest cases among county students since the start of the school year.

“Today, I am encouraged to report that our school children in the Salt Lake City school district appear to be healthier and better able to stay in-person learning than all the other children in Salt Lake County,” said Mendenhall at a press conference Monday in front of the Salt Lake City County building.

Mendenhall said she sent a letter to city council members urging them to vote to extend the requirement in a vote on Tuesday.

The council supported the emergency mask order, Mendenhall said, adding that she hopes the data will convince them to continue with the order.

Referring to data from the Salt Lake County Health Department, Mendenhall said the Salt Lake City School District has a rate of 57.13 new cases per 10,000 people, the lowest among the county’s five school districts. since the first day of school.

School district case rate, according to county health department data shared by Mendenhall:

  • Canyons: 91.64 per 10,000 inhabitants
  • Granite: 85.73
  • Jordan: 103.44
  • Murray: 81.12
  • Charter: 100.34
  • Salt Lake City: 57.13

Students mostly complied with the order of the masks, with 99.8% of students wearing them as needed, Mendenhall said. The mayor said wearing a mask does not appear to have an impact on students’ ability to engage in school or socialize.

“I’ve always heard from families, hundreds of families in our school districts,” she said, who told her about the “peace of mind” they had in sending children to the school. school “with that extra layer of protection”.

“COVID continues to claim unnecessary lives,” she said, noting that the situation appears “to be getting worse day by day.”

“Our children must wear masks in schools and in public. We have not come out of the woods and we cannot afford to take a step back at a time like this,” the mayor said.

Until more people can get vaccinated, Mendenhall said, masks in schools “are the best tool we have to protect our children.”

Mendenhall issued the emergency order requiring masks for kindergarten to grade 12 students on August 20. The move came after the Salt Lake County Council overturned a “duress order” for kindergarten to grade 6 students to wear masks. County health director Dr Angela Dunn requested the order shortly before the start of the school year.

The 2021 Utah legislature passed a law defining who can issue public health orders in an emergency, limiting the emergency powers of the mayor and governor to 30-day orders that can be overturned. during a special session this spring that banned school districts or schools from issuing their own mask warrants.

This story will be updated.

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