Some Arizona School Districts Renew Mask Policy After Ruling

PHOENIX (AP) — A handful of school districts are prolonging mask mandates after a judge ruled Arizona's ban on them was unconstitutional.

As of Tuesday, Scottsdale Unified School District, Paradise Valley Schools and Tucson's largest school district announced they would continue to enforce mask-wearing among students and faculty at campuses as well as district facilities.

Tucson Unified School District, however, had planned to maintain a mask mandate regardless of the outcome in court, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Meanwhile, school districts in more conservative-leaning parts of the state like Bullhead City will continue to encourage, but not mandate, masks.

In a ruling Monday, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge disagreed with the ban on school and local mask mandates being tucked inside budget legislation. Judge Katherine Cooper ruled the contents and measures of a bill must be reasonably related to its title.

The ban would have taken effect Monday. In the meantime, at least 29 public school districts in Arizona enacted mask requirements before the start of school year in defiance of the law and Gov. Doug Ducey's previous executive order.

Meanwhile, Arizona on Tuesday reported 1,123 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 108 deaths. The number of new cases was lower because of a reporting problem, the state Department of Health Services said. The glitch has since been fixed but will likely mean higher case numbers for the next two days as the reporting catches up.

Since the pandemic has started, Arizona has seen 1,087,451 confirmed cases and 19,920 deaths.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases dropped over the past two weeks, decreasing from 2,581 on Sept. 12 to 2,500 on Sunday. The rolling average of daily deaths rose from 26.9 to 42.7 during the same period.

COVID-19-related hospitalizations, which have decreased slightly since mid-September, as of Monday were at 1,794 for second straight day, the state's dashboard reported.