How is Salt Lake City mayor’s school mask order getting enforced? Education

When a student disobeys a school rule, there are opportunities for “lesson moments” to help them comply with the rules.

So it fits with the mask mandate from Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, which requires K-12 students, educators, and staff in Salt Lake City schools to wear face covers.

“We operate from a framework of educating and reminding families and students that this is a requirement, and we enforce it up to this point,” said Sandra Buendia, Salt’s executive director of educational equity and student support Lake City School District.

“The police element is not necessarily our responsibility. So we get it done by reminding everyone to offer them a mask and if they have a medical exception we definitely respect that. “

Salt Lake School District Superintendent Timothy Gadson III said he has attended every school in the district, “and we have a 99.8% compliance.”

Failure to comply with the mayor’s order may result in a Class B misconduct charge of up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $ 1,000, but the mask order has not yet been enforced by the police.

Salt Lake Police Detective Michael Ruff said he was unaware of calls for help from schools for people who refuse to adhere to the masking, nor of school resource officers responding to such incidents.

“It has always been a voluntary compliance, educational component. We don’t try to write quotes or make arrests or anything like that, ”said Ruff.

The school district also has no plans to refer cases of students who do not wear masks to school to law enforcement, Gadson said.

“We treat non-masked students as we would any misconduct, working with those students’ parents to address that misconduct or non-compliance with masks,” he said.

The implementing regulation leaves the possibility open to call the police. In several other states, disputes over the use of masks escalated to the point where parents attacked school staff.

“The district does not think it appropriate to refer students to the police because they simply do not wear a mask. We will follow the mayor’s order by encouraging and educating our students to wear masks, and we will continue to offer personal learning as required by state law, ”school district spokesman Jason Olsen said in a statement.

Some, like Salt Lake City School Council member Katherine Kennedy, said the school district “should find ways to address the fact that 0.2% do not wear masks when their non-compliance is” persistent. “

She suggested that students who adamantly refuse to wear a mask be placed in a separate room where they could continue personal study.

“It’s not just a matter of wrongdoing,” she said. “It’s public health.”

Board member Mohamed Baayd warned against creating divisions, saying he preferred to lead by example from what he experienced at his son’s school.

“We want everyone to feel at home and welcome. We don’t want to build a wall separating those who obey our laws and those who don’t. We know it’s a risk, but in the long term we’re trying to build the community. There is enough division in this world. Enough. It’s been too long and too much, ”said Baayd.

Kennedy said it wasn’t about inclusion; it is a public health issue.

“It’s not about making people feel good about not wearing a mask. It’s about keeping high-risk students alive, ”she said.

Gadson said his concern is about a student trapped between his home and school and the negative impact it has on the relationship between educators and a student “who believes we have criminalized the behavior or taken punitive action against him “.

No other Salt Lake County mayor has issued a similar executive order. Some mayors wonder if they are authorized to do so.

Another factor is that only the boundaries of Salt Lake City are adjacent to the boundaries of the school district. Murray city limits include the school districts but also extend to some schools in the Granite School District.

In a recent open letter to Millcreek residents, Mayor Jeff Silvestrini said he and members of Millcreek City Council had been showered with requests to obey Salt Lake City orders to issue an order that requires masks, but also ” quite a number of requests that I refuse “. Issuing such an instruction. “

Silvestrini, who is an attorney, reviewed both the Salt Lake City order and the health restriction issued by the Salt Lake County Health Department that ordered the wearing of masks in K-6 schools, which passed a 6-3 vote from Salt . Lake County Council was quickly terminated in a party vote. A majority of Millcreek city council members told Silvestrini that they would not support a mask mandate.

He noted that the school district had not asked the city to issue an executive order, and Millcreek is one of several cities serviced by the Granite School District.

Other mayors Silvestrini has spoken to believe “Mayor Mendenhall’s authority is in doubt and they do not intend to follow suit,” he wrote.

Silvestrini wrote that his research and advice from Millcreek City Attorney “confirms that while there may be a loophole, it was certainly the legislature’s intent to refer to a” restrictive order “such as a mask mandate in a public health emergency appointed the provincial health department of the county and the legislative bodies of the county, not the mayor of the city. ”

The city’s mayors lack health departments and direct access to the best available data for the county and communities, he continued.

“Mayors also have no jurisdiction over school districts in Utah. It is not good for local officials to overstep the limits of their authority, no matter how hard some argue that the ends justify the means, ”the letter continued.

Because of these factors, Silvestrini said he had postponed the declaration of the local emergency “pending further data collection and a possible review of the issue by Salt Lake City County Council if conditions quickly deteriorate. That is really their decision under the law. “

According to Silvestrini, health experts recommend that “unvaccinated, vulnerable elementary school children” wear masks in school.

“I hope the parents will take responsibility here,” he said.

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