Arizona Universities Use Superior Reading Skills To Beat Ban On Mask Mandates
Sparky Sun Devil always wears a mask. It's his face. Photo by 'Russy11,' Creative Commons License 4.0

Like lots of other Republican governors, Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona sought to preserve the precious freedom of all people in the Grand Canyon State to spread the coronavirus far and wide, so in June, he issued an executive order that he promised would ban mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and vaccination passports by any local government or school district, or even the three state universities. Ducey's office proudly sent out a press release announcing that Arizona students could share respiratory droplets freely like the Founders wanted:

Under the Executive Order, students cannot be mandated to take the COVID-19 vaccine or submit COVID-19 vaccination documents. [...] Students also cannot be mandated to be tested or wear masks in order to participate in learning.

Funny thing though, as Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts pointed out yesterday: That's not actually what the executive order, or a subsequent state law that the legislature rushed out, actually said, so the smart cookies in administration at Arizona State University issued an order requiring masks be worn inside university classrooms, labs, conference rooms, and other spaces where social distancing won't work.

As Roberts explains, the legislature was so intent on making sure that unvaccinated students and others not be singled out for a mask mandate that the law says nothing about requiring everyone on campus wear masks, vaccinated or no.

The discovery of the loophole — big enough for straps to go behind your ears — was so delightful that officials at Dok Zoom's two almas mater, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and the University of Arizona in Tucson, happily followed with their own mask mandates, and a good laugh was had by all, except by the campus chapters of the Federalist Society and College Republicans, we bet.

ASU Provost Nancy Gonzales told Roberts,

It's been our understanding that the governor's order prohibits us from denying unvaccinated students the ability to participate in activities on the basis of vaccination status. [...] We did not see that there was a masking prohibition broadly for colleges and universities.

Roberts doesn't say whether Gonzales could actually be heard stifling a laugh.

A spokesperson for Ducey, C.J. Karamagin, didn't address ASU's mask requirement directly, but let Roberts know that the governor

is not supportive of mandates or virtue signaling. [...] Rather than creating new mandates, the focus should be on promoting vaccinations — the vaccine is widely available and proven effective. We're not anti-mask; we're anti-mandate.

Mind you, the science supporting the effectiveness of face masks in reducing spread of the virus is quite sound, so it's not "virtue signaling," it's public health, you dope. Also, too, Kari Lake, a Republican candidate for governor in 2022, is straight up encouraging students to risk spreading the virus, to own the libs.

Hooray, endless lung infections for everyone! It's the hot new thing on campus, especially when the fever and chills hit.

Unfortunately, Roberts also notes, the law's language on K-12 schools allows no such wiggle room, and is a more definitive ban on mask requirements. Not that that's keeping Arizona school officials from treating the state's ban on keeping children safe with all the respect it deserves. At least nine school districts in Arizona have required masks, and that has Republican legislators pissed:

On Wednesday, 26 Republican legislators called on Ducey to lower the boom on K-12 "rogue" districts that are requiring masks.

They are asking the governor to withhold funding from the schools (and won't that help the kids?). They also want the state to sue and to offer temporary Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to all students "trapped within any school district that is non-compliant with state law."

A judge will decide tomorrow whether Phoenix Union High School District is in violation of the law, which seems unlikely since the law banning mask mandates doesn't actually go into effect until September 30 anyway. Roberts notes that the legislators aren't especially troubled by such details, though:

The GOP legislators contend the mask portion of that bill is retroactive to June 30. No explanation as to how a law that doesn't take effect until Sept. 30 can be retroactive to anything.

Hell, in a state where the state Senate thinks the 2020 presidential election can be retroactively cancelled, surely anything is possible.

[Arizona Republic / Photo: 'Russy11,' Creative Commons License 4.0

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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