Rep. Kelly Townsend

Republican Rep. Kelly Townsend of Mesa also represent San Tan Valley in Pinal County.

PHOENIX (AP) -- A Republican state lawmaker who supported legislation enacted in late June to prohibit school districts from requiring the wearing of masks said she has asked government lawyers to determine when the prohibition takes effect.

Sen. Kelly Townsend's requests Friday to the Legislature's legal office and the state Attorney General's Office was a response to Phoenix Union High School District's announcement that it will require students, staff and visitors to wear masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

The prohibition in budget legislation is retroactive to July 1, but the budget legislation itself doesn't take effect until Sept. 29, 90 days after the end of the Legislature's 2021 regular session.

“Ït is clear we still have an issue with rogue school boards when it comes to forcing masks," Townsend said in a statement.

Phoenix Union District officials said they were most concerned about protecting health and safety. “To do so, we must -- and will — implement mitigation strategies that minimize spread, reduce quarantining, avoid school closures, and enable us to provide mental health services and engaging opportunities such as clubs, sports, and the arts,” a district statement said.

Townsend represents Legislative District 16, which includes Apache Junction, Gold Canyon and San Tan Valley in Pinal County.

Another Republican lawmaker, Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, said on Twitter that the ban takes effect Sept. 29, adding, “”I predict many lawsuits from angry parents" if Phoenix Union's mandate remains in place then.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who signed he budget legislation into law and who opposes masks mandates, said that Phoenix Union's mask requirement wasn't enforceable.


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