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Chandler Unified declines to mandate masks before ban takes effect

Governing Board votes 3-2 to reject mandate, despite survey showing Chandler district's staff supports face masks at school.
A sign outside the Chandler Unified School District office. (Photo: Ryan Cody/12 News)

CHANDLER, Ariz. — The Chandler Unified School District, one of Arizona's largest districts, has chosen not to follow other school districts by requiring students to wear face masks. 

In a 3-2 vote, the CUSD Governing Board decided Thursday night to not modify its mitigation strategies already in place to curb the transmission of the coronavirus. 

Masks will remain optional for students and staff, despite a majority of local educators wishing they would become mandatory. 

According to a survey conducted by CUSD, 58% of the district's staff approved of requiring masks until the state's anti-mandate law takes effect on Sept. 29. A pro-mask mandate petition circulating around the Chandler community has recently gained nearly 1,000 signatures.

Other districts throughout the Valley have chosen to implement mask mandates until the new state law becomes effective.

RELATED: These Arizona school districts still have a mask requirement

The district's administrators presented other options to the school board that included requiring students to wear masks indoors or mandating masks for younger grade levels. 

Board members Lara Bruner and Lindsay Love voted against the board's decision to not change its current mitigation strategies.  

"It just kind of feels like our mitigation strategies don't really have teeth from what I'm hearing from public health experts," Love said.

CUSD has reported multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at its campuses since students returned to school last month. 

Hamilton High School has reported some of the district's highest case numbers with the campus reporting more than 100 infections. 

Regardless of the board's decision, Interim Superintendent Frank Narducci said CUSD will soon be introducing stricter quarantine guidelines at the recommendation of public health officials. 

RELATED: COVID-19 in Valley schools: See case dashboards and mitigation strategies for school districts

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