DUSD Superintendent (copy)

Douglas Unified School District Superintendent Ana Samaniego

DOUGLAS — Officials with the Douglas Unified School District have announced that effective immediately face coverings are now optional for students, staff and guests on school grounds.

The announcement by DUSD Superintendent Ana Samaniego was made and supported by the Douglas school board at its July 6 meeting.

“We’ve had a mask mandate since the pandemic started,” the superintendent said. “It is my recommendation that we make masks optional for all students and staff. There is much information out there that other districts are moving in that direction. Here at DUSD 95-98% of our staff is vaccinated. We’re going to be gathering information on our students 12 and older. I think it’s time our students breathe some fresh air and come back to school without being forced to wear masks. Masks will still be optional for any staff member or student who wishes to wear a mask.”

A statement on the DUSD website reads, “All persons, including, but not limited to, staff, students, vendors, visitors and volunteers, may choose to wear a face covering while on any district property, in any district facility, at any district event, whether indoors or outdoors. Individuals are not required to wear a face covering while on district property, in district facilities or at district events, except in situations that include, but are not necessarily limited to the following: Face covering are mandated by action of a governmental entity or agency with jurisdiction over the District or its operations; or the superintendent determines that face coverings are necessary in specific situations or activities to help ensure the health, welfare and safety of staff, students or other members of the school community; or the governing board votes to require face coverings. If face coverings are worn, staff, students, vendors, visitors and volunteers should wear them in a manner consistent with public health recommendations. The superintendent may make exceptions to this regulation while keeping in mind the health and safety of everyone involved.”

School is scheduled to start Thursday, Aug. 5, in the traditional learning environment and there would be no online instruction provided.

Board member Mitch Lindemann expressed concern about the 12 and younger students who are not yet vaccinated.

“Somehow I would hope that we are protecting them,” he said. “The delta variant is making a comeback in Arizona.”

Samaniego stated sanitation efforts will continue but class sizes would return to normal and no longer be an average of 10 students per class.

DUSD Assistant Superintendent Denise Cox reported that as of the board meeting, there were 3,804 students enrolled in the district, 95 of which are pre-kindergarten.