School mask requirement ban suspended in Arizona, enacted in Tennessee

As schools have begun reopening for the 2021-2022 academic year, several states have enacted policies regarding mask requirements in schools. As of Aug. 17, seven states banned school mask requirements, thirty states left school mask decisions up to local authorities, and thirteen states required masks in schools.

Recent actions were taken in Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas regarding school mask mandates. In Arizona, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner ruled on Aug. 16 that Arizona’s law banning school mask requirements could not take effect until Sept. 29. Warner said, “Under Arizona law, new laws are effective 90 days after the legislative session ends, which is Sept. 29 this year.” The legislature passed a ban on school mask requirements in the 2021 regular legislative session.

On Aug. 16, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an executive order allowing parents to send their children to school without masks in K-12 public schools that enacted mask requirements. With written notification to school authorities from a parent or guardian, a student would not be required to wear masks at school, on school buses, or at school functions.

The Texas Supreme Court temporarily overturned lower court orders in Bexar and Dallas Counties on Aug. 15 that would have allowed those local governments to disregard Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) May 18 executive order prohibiting governments from requiring masks.