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Mon, June 14

Verde Valley schools continue with mask mandates

Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey rescinded his mandate for face coverings in schools. Cottonwood-Oak Creek Superintendent Steve King said that the district’s COVID-approved mitigation plan would continue. VVN/Bill Helm

Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey rescinded his mandate for face coverings in schools. Cottonwood-Oak Creek Superintendent Steve King said that the district’s COVID-approved mitigation plan would continue. VVN/Bill Helm

VERDE VALLEY — Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey rescinded his mandate for face coverings in schools.

However, Verde Valley’s school districts will continue to require masks be worn until – or unless – their school boards say otherwise.

“It’s a board decision. The board will have to decide,” said Camp Verde Unified Superintendent Danny Howe.

Beaver Creek Superintendent Karin Ward said Tuesday that her district is preparing surveys to be sent later in the day to the district’s families, students and staff.

Expecting responses within 24 to 36 hours, Ward said the survey’s data would help the board decide whether to call a special meeting – or wait until the district’s May 10 meeting – and possibly rescind the district’s mask mandate.

Not only is Beaver Creek School District following its own COVID-19 mitigation plan, also, the district’s governing board also approved a change in policy to accommodate for Gov. Ducey’s July 2020 executive order that required masks in the state’s schools.

Since Monday, some other Verde Valley school district superintendents have told their families and staff that masks would still be required.

Cottonwood-Oak Creek does not plan to rescind its mask mandate.

“With only a little over four weeks remaining in the school year, we are not willing to subject them to any increased risk of the pandemic,” Superintendent Steve King wrote in an April 19 letter to the district’s families. “At this time, we will continue to implement our school board approved COVID-19 mitigation plan which includes the wearing of masks by all students, staff, and visitors in our schools through the end of the school year.”

Clarkdale-Jerome School District has revised its mitigation plan “several times over the course of the (2020-21) school year,” Superintendent Danny Brown said.

“We will continue implementing the mitigation plan we currently have in place that requires masks to be worn on campus by all students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Brown told the district’s families in a letter Monday. “We will continue with this policy until the governing board meets to review and discuss any mitigation plan revisions for approval.”

Gov. Ducey’s executive order, 2021-10, delegates the authority to mandate face coverings to individual school districts.

Monday, Mingus Union Superintendent Mike Westcott explained that the district’s administration and governing board “are reviewing this order, along with guidance from the CDC, the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Department of Education.”

“Until further notice, we will continue to follow existing board policy regulations and our COVID-19 mitigation plan, which requires the use of face coverings on our campus,” Westcott said Monday in an email to the Verde Independent. “We have successfully navigated this pandemic by following the science, adhering to our mitigation plan, and proceeding in a thoughtful manner with the health and safety of our students, staff, and community as our primary concern. This approach will not change.”

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