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Valley schools extend mask mandates after judge's ruling

Some school districts have decided to extend their masking policies beyond Sept. 29, the date an Arizona law banning universal masking was expected to take effect.

PHOENIX — Some Valley school districts are continuing to enforce universal masking on their campuses after a Maricopa County judge overturned a state law that would have prohibited mask mandates in public schools. 

A ban on school-related mask mandates was scheduled to take effect on Sept. 29. But Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ruled on Monday that the method state legislators used to implement the ban was "unconstitutional" and, therefore, unenforceable in Arizona.

State leaders have already announced they intend to quickly appeal Judge Cooper's ruling. 

RELATED: Arizona judge declares law banning mask mandates is unconstitutional

Before the state's law was overturned, many school districts had been practicing universal masking and were planning to discontinue the policy once the ban took effect. 

But now some are choosing to extend their mask mandates while the law continues to be debated in the courts. 

The Tempe Union High School District expects to continue requiring masks indoors for the foreseeable future. 

"Although there will likely be an appeal to this ruling, for the time being, TUHSD will keep all safety measures in place, including masking indoors," wrote Superintendent Kevin Mendivil in a letter on Monday.   

The Scottsdale Unified School District plans to continue enforcing its mask mandate until students return from a one-week intermission break in mid-October.

"Extending the mask requirement until after Fall Break affords the opportunity to see what impact that time away from school has on school cases," the district wrote in a letter to parents.

Scottsdale's mask mandate has been "successful" in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, the district said, since the number of on-campus infection cases has decreased over the last month. 

SUSD said it will stop requiring masks if Judge Cooper's ruling is overturned in the appeals court.

Paradise Valley Unified School District said mask mandates have been "effective" at reducing transmission and the need to quarantine students. 

Therefore, the district intends to continue requiring masks indoors at Paradise Valley's campuses and will allow students to opt out of the rule for religious or medical reasons.  

Phoenix's Madison Elementary School District is extending its mask mandate and plans to adjust some of its mitigation protocols as temperatures start cooling down, which will allow students to spend more time outside. 

RELATED: Arizona schools with mask mandates better at avoiding COVID outbreaks, CDC study says

RELATED: Phoenix Union teacher suing school district over mask mandate

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