LOGAN – Despite state law to the contrary, an ad hoc group of local residents are urging the members of the Logan City Council to call for a mask mandate for youngsters in city schools.
“In your leadership positions, you are tasked with tremendous responsibility for protecting your constituents,” said former legislative candidate Mary DaSilva, while delivering a petition with nearly 400 signatures to city council members on Sept. 7. “We depend on your leadership to do what is right … by prioritizing the health and safety (of schoolchildren).”
DaSilva addressed the council members from a position of some expertise, as a retired registered nurse with 27 years of experience in the surveillance of communicable diseases.
She also spoke as the representative of the Concerned Coalition of Cache County (CCCC), a group of non-partisan residents of Cache County who are concerned about COVID-19 management in local schools.
“We ask you,” DaSilva told council members, “to support mandatory masking for in-person school attendance in accordance with guidance from Center for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Utah State Board of Health and the Utah Board of Education.“
Although obviously well-intended, complying with the CCCC petition could have the potential to ignite a turf war between the Logan City Council and the Cache County Council.
In May, the Utah Legislature passed a measure that barred public schools and universities from unilaterally implementing mask mandates.
Under that statute, local health officials can still respond to coronavirus outbreaks in schools with mask orders provided that county council members approve that action.
In mid-August, the director of the Bear River Health District, Jordan D. Mathis, polled the opinions of the members of the Cache County regarding the possibility of imposing a countywide mask mandate in response to surging COVID-19 infection rates in northern Utah.
The members of the county council were unanimously opposed to that idea.
Although members of the Logan City Council accepted the CCCC petition at their most recent meeting, they also acknowledged that their hands are tied with regard to mask mandates.
“I think that most people are aware of the current legislative mandate that limits our ability to do anything without coordination with the school district and the health department,” Mayor Holly Daines explained.
“I wish we had more power,” council member Jeannie Simmonds added, “but we don’t.”
As a concerned mother, Katie Lee Koven argued at the Sept. 7 meeting that both the superintendent of local schools and the Logan School Board would like a mask mandate for the city’s young, unvaccinated children.
DaSilva said that group includes most youngsters under 18 and virtually all children under 12.
“Your voices are important,” Koven reminded the members of the Logan City Council in a Facebook post on Sept. 8. “We need proactive leadership.
“Please come together … and tell the County Council – specifically Barbara Tidwell, Karl Ward and Paul Borup, who are our Logan representatives – what Logan school leaders want. And tell Jordan Mathis too.”
The Concerned Coalition of Cache County (CCCC) is part of a grassroots movement dedicated to advocating for science-based policy recommendations in the battle against the coronavirus. Its members contend that extreme voices are dominating policy discussions during the ongoing pandemic.