During a special session in May, the Utah Legislature passed H.B 1007 which banned the Utah Board of Education and school districts from implementing mask mandates. The authority now falls to the Utah County Health Department with approval by the Utah County Commission.
Current Utah County Commissioners, Bill Lee, Tom Sakievich and Amelia Powers Gardner have made it clear: There will be no mask mandates in Utah County or it’s schools.
Commissioner Bill Lee issued the following statement:
“As an advocate of parental choice in education, I cannot support putting into place a government mask mandate for this upcoming school year. I am leery and critical of mandates. I have not supported any government mask mandates since the beginning of COVID-19, and that continues to be my position now.
Government’s role is to educate and inform, but not to decree. Living in a free society comes with inherent risks. Those risks should be weighed, determined, and understood, but at the end of the day, the government needs to allow individuals and parents to make decisions for themselves. I trust our parents and residents here in Utah County. I respect those who choose to wear a mask, and I ask that they likewise show respect and tolerance to those who choose not to wear a mask or who choose not to send their children to school in masks.
Last year, the Utah County Commission imposed a countywide mask mandate by a 2-1 vote. I was the dissenting vote. The two commissioners who implemented that mandate are no longer on the Utah County Commission, and the two new commissioners have both indicated that they share my views on parental choice and having civil discourse.
Mask mandates will always be a controversial issue. Many people in our community have strong opinions on this topic. I have always said that it’s important for us to have open dialogue. We can be passionate in our beliefs, but we should always remain civil to one another. While I will continue to be an advocate for parental choice, I understand not everyone sees this issue the way I do.”
Commissioner Tom Sakievich also issued the following statement:
“I oppose government efforts to force health decisions on our citizens; they create divisions in our communities and frustrations among the very people institutions are sworn to protect. For those we represent mandates often cause long-term harm.
To that end I applaud the Utah Legislature for passing, and Governor Cox for signing into law, HB 1007, May 28, 2021, which banned statewide mask mandates in Utah’s public schools.
Should any infectious disease (including COVID-19) see a serious increase in our public schools, Utah County will work with the health department and school districts to advise adults and parents how they can best prevent diseases from spreading. As with all contagious diseases, the State of Utah will continue to provide recommendations how Utahns can limit the spread.
Governments should inform the people what it knows and doesn’t know, then make recommendations and provide support; ultimately, the people will determine outcomes. Of the many lessons I’ve learned from 30 years of U.S. Marine Corps service one stands out: when a short or long-term crisis arises, individuals are the best to judge how to respond for themselves and their families.
Some can vaccinate, others must not. Some can “mask up,” while others cannot. I am adamantly opposed to government mandates.”