(KUTV) — A parents' group made a pitch Thursday to end the school mask mandate in Utah, but Gov. Spencer Cox said not yet.
Utah Parents United, which said it has 10,000 members and growing, held a small gathering inside the old Utah County Courthouse in Provo.
Amber Bowman, from Kanab, said she prevailed in getting a mask exemption for her 12-year-old son in a southern Utah elementary school in the Kane County district.
Just this week, the district changed its policy from requiring a medical directive from a health care professional for a mask exemption, to allowing parents to provide the documentation.
At his monthly KUED news conference, Cox said he empathized with students and parents.
“I would like nothing more than to be done with masks everywhere,“ the governor said, but he seemed to make it clear masks should be worn by students for the rest of the school year.
We’re so close right now, so my encouragement would be to stick with us,” Cox said. “Let’s finish this out. We’re not going to come back with masks in the fall. We’re going to be done with this, and we’re getting there.”
Bowman noted she thinks a two week “flatten the curve” request to wear masks stretched out before.
“My worry is that when school starts back up again, that something new will come about, and the children will be back in masks again,” she said.
The state health department said masks are needed now in schools because vaccines are not available for anybody younger than 16, kids can get sick, and be carriers.
But a retired doctor with Utah Parents United said masks should be optional in schools.
“Children are the least likely to suffer ill effects from COVID-19,” said Dr. Lyle Mason, who was an orthopedic surgeon for decades.
Teachers were among the first in line for vaccines, but the health department said not all school employees have been vaccinated.