Utah bill permanently banning mask mandates in schools passes, heads to governor

Photo illustration of children going to school in masks. | Photo by puhimec, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Utah Legislature passed a measure Wednesday that would permanently ban a mask mandate in K-12 and higher education schools in the state unless agreed to jointly by the governor and state Legislature.

In this file photo, Utah State Sen. Evan Vickers, left, converses on the Senate floor with Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson on March 3, 2021. Salt Lake City, Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah State Legislature, St. George News

The Face Covering Requirements measure, designated HB 1007 in the 2021 Utah Legislature, would also disallow schools to require the COVID-19 vaccine without allowing for medical exemptions.

Proponents said the bill would still allow people to wear face coverings to school if they wished, while opponents say it curtails efforts to stem any future pandemic or a resurgence of COVID-19. The state’s school mask mandate ended last Friday for the last week of the school year, though Washington County schools proactively ended their enforcement of the mandate on their own  May 7.

After passing through the House of Representatives, 50-24 with one absent, in the morning, the measure passed 23-5 with one absent in the Senate, where Cedar City-based Sen. Evan Vickers, R, was the floor sponsor.

All of Southern Utah’s legislators in both houses of the state Legislature voted for the measure.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Spencer Cox, who has not said whether he will sign the bill.

For a complete list of contacts for Southern Utah representatives and senators, click here.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2021 Utah Legislature here.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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