Some Arizona school officials are in a feud with Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Legislature over implementing mandatory mask policies, but some of those officials have been caught not wearing masks themselves. Arizona Superintendent of Schools Kathy Hoffman, a Democrat, was spotted not wearing one along with others at a baby shower. Not a single person present had a mask on or was social distancing. Amphitheater Public Schools, which mandated masks on August 16, posted a photo of their Communications Director Michelle Valenzuela, posing without a mask on, clearly standing within a couple of feet of the photographer. They deleted the tweet.

Ducey is confident the school mask mandates will not hold up in court. He said earlier in August, “COVID has been with us for well over a year and a half now, and Arizonans are educated about it. If they want to wear masks, they should absolutely do so. It’s an individual choice. No one and no law anywhere in Arizona is stopping anyone from wearing masks. Ultimately, these mandates are toothless, unenforceable and will not hold up in court.”

The Arizona Legislature banned local governments from instituting mask mandates in a law that began on July 1. Phoenix Union High School District implemented a mandatory mask policy anyway, and a biology teacher at one of its schools filed a lawsuit against the district over it. A judge appointed by former Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano refused to slap an injunction on the school district’s mandate but is allowing the case to proceed. Other school districts have followed its lead. Judge Randall Warner appeared to ignore the effective date of July 1 in the legislation, instead choosing to decide that the law went into effect as do traditional Arizona laws 90 days after the annual session ends, on September 29.

Ducey issued a directive in mid-August financially penalizing the offending school districts. They will not receive any of the $163 million that the state got through the American Rescue Plan to boost per-pupil funding. Students in those districts will receive vouchers to attend schools elsewhere.

There have been plenty of Democrats caught red-handed violating mask policies they support. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) was caught on August 25 attending an event without a mask next to about 30 people. Only a handful were wearing masks and they were all crowded in together.

On August 21, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) was photographed speaking with her mask around her neck at a Democratic fundraiser, with tables of supporters sitting closely together unmasked. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) tweeted a video of the event, saying, “Speaker Pelosi wants to lock you down again while she wines and dines with her political donors. It’s utter hypocrisy.”

The public schools generally cite the CDC as guidance when it comes to masks. On July 27, the CDC recommended masks for schools regardless of vaccination status. And says everyone should still wear masks almost everywhere. Updated CDC guidance from August 13 states, “In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings.” This applies even for those who are fully vaccinated. COVID-19 is surging in San Francisco, which encompasses much of Pelosi’s district. Her event took place in a crowded outdoor setting.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons opposes mask mandates in schools. The organization has a lengthy analysis of masks’ effectiveness and negative health implications on its site. However, the public schools claim to follow the CDC, not the AAPS.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News NetworkFollow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Maskless Event” by Senator Mark Kelly.