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Arizona Universities Require Masks

August 12, 2021

Arizona State University said Wednesday that it would require face coverings in all classrooms and labs and some other indoor settings, and the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University quickly followed with similar announcements, the Arizona Republic reported

It’s possible the policies contradict state law, which says that public universities or community colleges can't "place any conditions on attendance or participation in classes or academic activities, including mandatory testing or face covering usage, if the person chooses not to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine or disclose whether the person has been vaccinated against COVID-19." 

But an ASU spokesman said the college believes its policy is in compliance with the law. 

"Unlike the legislation applicable to K-12 districts, neither the governor's order nor the legislation applicable to the universities prohibits a mask mandate," Jay Thorne, ASU's spokesman, told the newspaper. "Instead, it prohibits the universities from either requiring vaccinations or imposing different requirements on students to attend classes (such as masking or testing) based on the student's vaccination status or willingness to disclose that status." 

Northern Arizona and the University of Arizona announced indoor mask requirements shortly after ASU did Wednesday. University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins said earlier this week that the university would have required vaccines and masks if state law allowed it.


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Elizabeth Redden

Elizabeth Redden, Senior Reporter, covers general higher education topics, religion and higher education, and international higher education for Inside Higher Ed. She has more than a decade of experience as an education journalist. She holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

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