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Arizona school district issues mask mandate, defying state law

PHOENIX (KPNX) - The Phoenix Union High School District announced Friday it will require everyone to wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status when students return to classes on Monday.

The move is in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control's recommendations that all students, teachers and faculty wear masks in the classroom whether they're vaccinated or not.

RELATED: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends masks in schools, but Arizona schools are barred from mask requirements

The district's requirement will most likely meet resistance as it goes against a recently added state law that prohibits public school districts or charter schools from requiring the use of face coverings by students or staff. The new law was added to Arizona's most recent state budget.

Chad Gestson, a superintendent for the district, released a video statement on YouTube addressing the reasoning behind why the decision was made.

"I think what has been most challenging is that we are institutions that teach science and trust science—and from time to time are forced to make a decision that maybe conflicts with state law, or a state mandate, or an executive order in order to follow science and medical guidelines," Geston said.

Watch his entire statement here:

RELATED: Ducey takes on COVID-19 protocols in Arizona schools

The district serves nearly 30,000 students and has 4,000 employees.

The new requirement from the school district will also likely cause a confrontation between it and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, whose office recently released a statement regarding the CDC's new recommendation.

"Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated. We’ve passed all of this into law, and it will not change," Ducey said on Tuesday.

RELATED: Ducey calls new mask recommendations 'discrimination' while ADHS recommends students wear masks in the classroom

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