Mask mandate showdown: AZ governor says 'Leave the schools to the states; that's how the Constitution reads'

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey stood by the soon-to-be law in the state, banning schools from imposing mask mandates on campus.

The Biden administration sent a letter to the governor, standing by the school districts that have enacted mask rules and federal dollars could be at stake.

It was a heated exchange at times with the governor, who said parents make the best choices for their children, not school boards.

A lot has happened since we've been able to speak to Gov. Ducey.

School has started and the battle over mask rules in schools has only intensified.

LIST: Arizona school districts with mask requirements

Ducey took questions after a ceremonial bill signing on Aug. 19.

"I want parents to do what they think is the right thing to do. Anyone who wants to wear a mask is supported in wearing that mask," he said.

A state law banning mask mandates in public schools takes effect at the end of September. In the meantime, some districts have chosen to implement the mask rules for students.

"This is not a Doug Ducey mandate. This is the law. I took an oath to upload the law, and so should administrators around the state."


The state's largest teacher's union says they're worried about rising COVID-19 case numbers.

"The governor's just wrong about this. And it's unfortunate. He's politicizing this, playing into his base who's agitated by this," said Joe Thomas of the Arizona Education Association. "Many who aren't parents, but some are."

The governor is now offering extra money that came from the feds to schools that don't impose the mask mandates. There's also money available for parents looking to move their children out of a district with mandates. It could set up a showdown with the Biden administration.

"Leave the schools to the states; that's how the Constitution reads," said Ducey. "If the administration should leave the schools to the states, shouldn't the state leave the rules for kids to the schools? The state has provided maximum flexibility to the closest form of governance to the child, and that's the parent."

A lawsuit could decide whether or not the ban on mask rules goes into effect at the end of September.

Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic

Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news:

Sign up for FOX 10 email alerts, newsletters

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 10 News app. It is FREE! Download for Apple iOS or Android.