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Utah legislature passes prohibition on mask mandates in schools

Utah legislature passes prohibition on mask mandates in schools
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The Utah legislature has passed a bill prohibiting schools from requiring masks.

The legislation “prohibits a face covering requirement to participate in or attend instruction, activities or any other place on the school campus or facilities in the system of public education after the end of the 2020-2021 school year,” according to its text.

It further prevents higher education institutions and the Utah Board of Higher Education from requiring face coverings after the end of the spring semester of 2021.

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The measure passed during a special session of the Utah state legislature, according to Deseret News. The House passed the bill 50-24, and the Senate passed it 23-5.

The bill now heads to Gov. Spencer Cox’s (R) desk for his signature.

The move comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance last week that says it's safe for vaccinated people to shed their masks.

But prior to the guidance, Cox told The Associated Press in an interview that the state had no plans to mandate masks for K-12 schools next fall amid rising vaccination rates

The governor told the AP that parents who were concerned about children contracting COVID-19 had resources to ensure they were protected.

“There will certainly be opportunities to accommodate those who may be struggling or are worried about that but our hope is that ... by the time we’re back in school by the end of August that that won’t be a concern for most families,” he told the AP.

Utah isn’t the only state to move to ban masks mandates in schools. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed an executive order Tuesday banning local governments and schools from requiring face masks.

Local governments in the Lone Star State have until May 21 to abolish their mask orders, while schools have until June 4 to do so.