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TUSD stays with mask mandate after Pima County decision

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Hours after the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted against mandating in K-12 Pima County schools Tuesday, the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board held firm.

The TUSD board voted in favor of a mask mandate in its school buildings last Wednesday.

"I wish they made a different decision and I think what we're doing in TUSD will really help our community stay safe and healthy," said TUSD Board Member Ravi Grivois Shah.

Pima County Supervisor and TUSD Board Member Adelita Grijalva had COVID-19 last winter. Grijalva supported the countywide mask mandate that failed.

She has three kids in TUSD.

"I'm so concerned that my youngest who's not able to be vaccinated is online. And he's concerned too because he's also had COVID-19 and he doesn't want to get sick again," Grijalva said.

In response to the county's decision Tuesday, Gov. Ducey's office gave News 4 Tucson this statement:

"We're glad they did the right thing and decided to follow the law."

Tuesday night, a TUSD employee read parent letters during the public comment section of the meeting. One parent vehemently opposed TUSD's mask mandate.

"You have been complying with the same state law, making masks optional for the last month and now you decide to change your course? This is a really bad example to set for our kids," said the parent. "If you don't like a law, just don't follow it. This is no longer about the virus, it's about your control."

Grijalva worries the state could withhold funding to TUSD for going against state law.

The state can make a school district and any school system very difficult.

Board member Ravi Grivois-Shah is a family doctor.

"We are bringing together these individuals and we have a responsibility before we can get to addressing academic achievement or emotional and learning development for our students," Grivois-Shah said. "We have to make sure that while they are at our schools and our campuses, they are safe and healthy.

Tuesday night, the district said it wants to come up with a plan to limit the number of students in school cafeterias at one time as a way to slow the spread of the virus. This plan includes a possible outdoor eating option for some classes.

The board will come back to this at its next meeting on Aug. 24.