April 12 will mean business as usual in Summit County’s schools, with masks required just as they have been all school year even though the state mask mandate is set to expire two days before.
The change won’t extend inside Utah’s schools, which fall under a statewide public health order that mandates mask wearing for students and teachers until June 15. That’s after the scheduled last day of school day for the Park City, North Summit and South Summit school districts.
South Summit spokesperson Jodi Jones said the expiration of the state mandate April 10 likely won’t change the conditions inside schools or make it harder to enforce the requirement.
“I don’t know that we’ll see that much of a difference,” Jones said. “There will still be the same group of students who don’t like to wear them and the same group who are just used to it and won’t have any issues continuing through the end of the year.”
She added that students are already used to different rules while in school than outside of it.
The mandate derives from a January Utah Department of Health order, which is unchanged by the new state law that ends the statewide mandate. That law allows state and local health department orders pertaining to public health safety measures in schools to remain in place, though they must be terminated no later than July 1.
State officials decided to offer vaccines to educators early in the vaccination campaign in addition to at-risk groups and first responders, part of a statewide push to ensure in-person learning could continue.
Some teachers have balked at in-person instruction in situations they said did not allow for social distancing. Local officials have touted safety guidelines, including mask-wearing, as key to maintaining a safe school environment and avoiding a return to remote learning.
Data published by the Park City School District shows four active cases districtwide as of Wednesday. Summit County Health Director Rich Bullough said recently that case numbers have dwindled, but that new cases in the county are being driven by spread among children. He has said in the past that schools have not been a site of significant spread.
Park City Superintendent Jill Gildea said schools have been operating under distinct rules and regulations during the pandemic, indicating the district would continue to enforce the mask mandate for the remainder of the school year.
“As we’ve all learned over the past year in navigating a global pandemic, we must be ready to adjust and adapt as we learn more about the virus,” Gildea said. “We’ve appreciated our educator’s and community’s commitment and focus in keeping students safely in school for the duration of the 20/21 school year as we’re all navigating unchartered waters together.”
May 28 is the last scheduled day of school in North Summit and South Summit, while it is June 3 in Park City.