Utah Students Who Are Caught Without Masks In School May Be Hit With Criminal Charges, Even Kindergartners

Students in Utah who are as young as being in kindergarten may be hit with criminal charges if they are caught not wearing a mask in school amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Utah Students May Be Charged

The office of Republican Governor Gary Herbert reportedly confirmed the potential for K-12 students and staff getting misdemeanors for violating the mask mandate, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. However, spokeswoman Anna Lehnardt added that it will be up to the schools whether to press charges, which are anticipated to be rarities.

“It’s enforced on a district and superintendent level,” she added. “But we’re not thinking, ‘Let’s slap a bunch of kids with misdemeanors.'”

This comes one month after Herbert issued a mask mandate for public schools.

Violators of the mandate can be punished with sentences of up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000, which is the same as a first offense for driving drunk.

“We want our teachers to be safe,” Lehnardt said, adding that there is no expiration date on the mask mandate.

Parents Fight Back

As schools have reopened this week, however, the enforcement of the mandate has become frustrating for parents. In a legislative meeting that took place on Wednesday, one mother spoke out to question why there should be potential misdemeanor charges associated with something that she sees as a personal choice.

“Our children should not have to suffer criminal consequences for getting an education,” said Angie Martin, whose child attends high school in Cache County.

Other parents have been fighting back as well. Danielle Cottam is a Utah mother who has removed her five children from school so they don’t have to abide by the order. The Tribune stated that on Wednesday, which was a school day, Cottam’s children played with a crowd of other mask-free kids at a splash pad in St. George.

“I should have the kids in school,” Cottam told the publication. “But I chose to keep them home because of the mask crap. … It’s totally unconstitutional. It’s not even giving us a choice. I think I should have a right to choose whether or not my kids have to wear it.”

This piece was written by PoliZette Staff on August 22, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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