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SLC mayor calls on city council to extend K-12 mask requirement

SALT LAKE CITY — The 30-day emergency order issued by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall requiring K-12 students to wear masks could expire in 10 days or be renewed by the Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday.

That’s why Mendenhall, on Monday, publicly called on the council to keep the order in place because she said the data shows it’s working.

According to the Salt Lake County Health Department, the Salt Lake City School District has the lowest rate of COVID-19 cases since the first day of school among the county’s five school districts.

“Salt Lake City School District and its community are doing everything they can to help keep children learning safely in-person: As of August 31, 60% of Salt Lake City School District students over the age of 12 are vaccinated — the highest vaccination rate among Salt Lake County’s five school districts; SLC School District is ensuring COVID-19 testing is readily available to its community; and students, teachers, and staff are wearing masks,” said Dr. Angela Dunn with the Salt Lake County Health Department. “This layered approach to prevention is paying off; at 57 new cases per 10,000 population, SLC School District has the lowest rate of COVID-19 cases since the first day of school among the county’s five school districts.”

Mendenhall added school district leaders are reporting nearly 100% compliance for students wearing masks in school.

“I’m encouraged by the communication I’ve had with our school district that not only are they seeing nearly 100 percent compliance for wearing masks in class, they are also observing that the masks don’t appear to be impacting students ability to engage in their learning or prohibit their social activities,” Mendenhall said. “I’ve also been heartened by the parents I’ve heard from in our district, who have told me about the peace of mind they have sending their children to Salt Lake City’s schools knowing they’ll have an extra layer of protection against this virus.”

Mendenhall said parents tell her they have peace of mind knowing their children have an extra layer of protection against this virus.

“We’re not out of the woods, and we cannot afford to take additional steps backward at a critical moment like this. What we’re currently doing in Salt Lake City is working for our children and their families, and we need to continue ensuring that they are as healthy and protected from this virus as they can possibly be.”

Mendenhall has said Utah law allows a mayor to declare a state of emergency under certain conditions.

While the mayor has been criticized by some state Republican lawmakers who said she has no authority over health or education policy, Utah House Democrats representing the Salt Lake City area commended her for keeping children safe.

When asked what avenues she would take if the Salt Lake City Council voted not to extend the order, Mendenall said she’ll have to explore them if that happens, but she’s hopeful they’ll look at the data and support her move once again.

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