Marana School District rejects extending mask mandate in classrooms

click to enlarge Marana School District rejects extending mask mandate in classrooms
Keep those masks on, kids

The Marana Unified School District Governing Board ended their special meeting on Wednesday with no action on requiring face masks on Marana school campuses.

Board member John Lewandowski called the Sept. 28 emergency meeting on the previous day and planned to make a motion for the institution of a mask mandate. Marana school campuses have gone to mask-optional status since their previous mandate ended on Sept 29.

New data from a recently released study by the CDC, co-authored with Pima County, showed K-12 schools without mask requirements were 3.5 times more likely to experience a COVID outbreak. Data was taken from 999 public schools in Pima and Maricopa counties.

Board member Hunter Holt surprised the Board on Wednesday by making a motion to relinquish the authority to institute a mask mandate to Superintendent Dr. Dan Streeter. 

“My motion is to give Dr. Streeter sole authority to implement and remove any sort of mask mandate from here on out,” Holt said.

Holt said he trusted Streeter to make the proper decision. He also said that COVID case numbers have improved in Marana. The Arizona Department of Health Services has recorded a slow decrease of overall COVID cases in Pima County since the August surge. Pima County K-12 schools are still considered to have high transmissibility, according to ADHS. 

“This is really ridiculous. John called this meeting so the five of us could vote on re-imposing a mask mandate and now Hunter has come in from left field and has thrown this curveball,” said board member Tom Carlson. "Obviously, Dr. Streeter doesn’t know what to say on this.”

Streeter seemed confused by the surprise motion and recommended the Board vote no. The motion to give Streeter mandate authority failed.

Lewandowski then asked the board to extend the mask mandate. The motion was not seconded. Marana Unified School District will remain mask-optional until the board decides otherwise.

“I was very disappointed,” Lewandowski said after the meeting.

“I thought I was doing what was in the best interest of kids and staff for safety.”

Lewandowski pledged to ask Board President Dr. Maribel Lopez to revisit the subject at a future meeting but said she could choose not to include it.