Students start class masked in Salt Lake amid ongoing debate
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kids in Salt Lake City are headed back to school Tuesday wearing masks after the mayor issued a mandate order despite heavy restrictions on mask mandates imposed by the GOP-dominated Legislature.
Democratic Mayor Erin Mendenhall said she used her emergency powers to protect kids as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus spreads.
But a top Republican lawmaker said in a strongly worded Facebook post that she doesn’t have the authority to do so. Rep. Mike Schultz of Hooper, the House Majority Whip, said the order was not enforceable and he threatened legislative action to constrain mayors’ emergency powers.
Mendenhall’s spokeswoman Lindsey Nikola the mayor stands by her actions.
Her order came a week after the GOP-controlled county council overturned a school mask order issued by the county’s top health official. A new state law bans districts from imposing their own mask mandates and granted county leaders the power to overturn orders from health departments.