Parents, schools react to simplified student mask exemption process

Jan 11, 2022, 8:37 PM | Updated: 8:49 pm

BLUFFDALE, Utah — Tuesday marked the second day that students in Salt Lake County were back in the classroom under a new mask order that includes a simplified process for a mask exemption.

“Jordan School District is following clarification from Salt Lake County which says a doctor’s note is not required for student mask exemptions,” the district said in an email to parents. “The County is concerned that requiring a doctor’s note would place undue burden on our healthcare system, which is already overwhelmed.”

The district provided an updated form for parents to request a face covering exemption. The short form requires a parent’s signature and lists three exemption options:

  • Student cannot put on or remove mask without assistance
  • A medical condition, mental condition or developmental disability
  • IEP [Individualized Education Plan] or Section 504 Accommodation

The district said that students are required to wear masks until the exemption form is in place and that forms that have already been submitted will continue to be honored.

“Our practices are fully aligned with the spirit and intent of the health order which gives parents the opportunity to opt their student out of the mask requirement with one of three options,” the district said in a statement sent to KSL-TV.

After getting clarification from the health department, other districts also worked to change their mask exemption forms.

“We did modify that form over the weekend to simplify that process, and if parents do affirm that their child qualifies for those medical conditions, we’re not requiring any additional verification,” Ben Horsley, spokesperson for the Granite School District, told KSL-TV on Monday.

The mask order went into effect Saturday and was issued by Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Angela Dunn.

It requires those living or visiting the county to wear a respirator — or well-fitting mask until a respirator is obtained — while in indoor public spaces — including grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, offices and schools.

The Salt Lake County Health Department released a subsequent statement saying that the mask mandate is potentially the last chance to keep students in in-person learning and that residents must do everything they can to protect lives and livelihoods over the next several weeks.

“Salt Lake County Health Department encourages schools to implement the respirator order in the spirit it was intended: to help prevent transmission of COVID by requiring everyone in the school — except those with an exemption listed in the order — to wear respirators,” the statement said.

Over the weekend, the advocacy group Utah Parents United sent a letter to school superintendents in the county, asking them to better inform parents that a doctor’s signature is no longer required for a mask exemption under the new mandate.

The group said parents know their children best.

“So they are able to use their own judgement to decide if their child qualifies for the exemption because of their mental, emotional, or medical condition,” Corinne Johnson with Utah Parents United told KSL-TV in an interview on Monday. “And this is a wonderful thing for parents to be able to make that choice.”

One parent with a child attending school in the Jordan School District expressed concern that the new mask exemption process could be putting his family’s health at risk.

“The schools should be the number one important place for the kids to be wearing masks, especially if they are not fully vaccinated or fully boosted,” Tim Swindells, a resident of West Jordan, said.

Swindells also said he worries that the mask order won’t be enforced and that the exemption process is too easy.

“I’m really concerned that it would be abused,” he said. “That it would be taken advantage of by the parents.”

Tuesday night, the Salt Lake County Council voted to hold a special meeting to address the mask mandate.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

AURORA, CO - DECEMBER 15: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center investigat...
Jed Boal, KSL TV

Pfizer booster shot is now approved for children 5-11, here’s what a doctor advises

The CDC now recommends Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots for children ages five to 11. But, a leading pediatric epidemiologist suggests some parents may want to wait based on their summer plans.
2 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV

COVID-19 cases on the rise in Utah, State Department of Health says

The Utah Department of Health and Human Services are seeing an increase of COVID-19 cases across the state as well as an increase in hospitalizations.
3 days ago
CDC Covid Community Map Levels as of May 18th, 2022. (Credit: CDC)...
Michael Houck, KSL TV

Summit County is considered ‘medium risk’ for COVID-19 by the CDC

The CDC list Summit County as the only "yellow" risk county in Utah for COVID-19, breaking Utah's all green risk status. 
4 days ago
The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19...
Ashley Moser, KSL TV

Hospital ceremony honors survivors, healthcare heroes as U.S. hits one million COVID-19 deaths

The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19, those who survived it, and the caregivers and healthcare workers who cared for the sick.
5 days ago
Ladd Egan, KSL TV

Mixed results for food drive while demand for assistance stays high

After a two-year break because of the pandemic, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive returned on Saturday with mixed results.
6 days ago
The Conference Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City for a yo...
Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL TV

Young adults pack Conference Center, overflow seating with largest crowds since pandemic

Thousands gathered at the Conference Center and overflow seating in Temple Square for a big event that hasn’t taken place with this many people in-person, since before the start of the pandemic.
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Make Money Online Easily...

4 Ways that You Can Make Money Online Easily in Just a Few Clicks

Here are 4 ways that you can make money online easily in no time at all! Some are as simple as just a few clicks away.
tips to winterize your home...
Bonneville Digital SLC

Tips to Winterize Your Home | The Top 5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Cold Utah Winter Ahead

Before the snow hits, here are the top 5 tips to winterize your home to prepare for the cold Utah winter this year.
Parents, schools react to simplified student mask exemption process