vail az school board drop mask madate
Nearly 100 parents rallied at the Vail Education Center to drop the mask mandate at the schools.
Emotions flared in Vail Tuesday night after some parents shared their frustrations about the Vail Unified School District still requiring its students to mask up.

On Tuesday, the VUSD school board was planning to discuss its mask policy after Gov. Doug Ducey enacted a new executive order that lifted the state's order to require face masks in schools.

As this new order allowed "K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread, including the use of masks," several local school districts elected to maintain its mask mandate throughout the remainder of the school year.

When the announcement was made, VUSD immediately shared with its community that it planned to continue its current COVID-19 mitigation practices at this time, stating that its board would discuss the matter this week.

However, when the meeting date came, the district officials decided to cancel it a few minutes before it began, citing safety concerns after parents and community members rallied outside the district office, calling for the district to lift the mask mandate.

After the community heard the news of the meeting's cancelation, some parents got upset. They demanded to speak to the board. Five parents along with their kids were allowed to speak to the board.

At times, the group of parents made their way inside the school district headquarters.

Pima County Sheriff's Department deputies were called out to try and keep the peace. However, their presence only made some parents' voices louder.

"These are my rights as a parent and they don't get to decide how I raise them and what I believe is true and factual," one parent said. "It's disgusting what's being done and I don't agree with it. I don't. When you look at the flu, it also causes death. It also hurts people."

The district told News 4 Tucson about 90 percent of parents support the mask mandate for their kids.

"There's always the smaller portion that likes to be louder than others," one parent said. "But I believe the school district does a great job of hearing and putting the concerns and safety of everyone."

One parent who has two children in the district said she worries this community has reached a breaking point it cannot come back from.

"They have never not asked for our input on anything. We get to help build the high school. We get to help name the high school. We help pick the colors. They literally invented three different ways to educate our kids, so they could try to appease everyone during a pandemic," she said. "The community gets torn apart and we are so divided we can't get put back together again. Vail's all about our community."

School officials say district leaders are working on a letter to send to all parents as a reminder that the mask mandate remains in place. The school year in Vail ends in under four weeks.