It needed to be done. At the end of June, Governor Ducey signed HB2898, which included a provision prohibiting a city, town, county, school board, or charter school governing body from requiring students or teachers to wear masks.

Bear in mind that this law doesn’t mean students and teachers can’t wear masks. They certainly can if they want to. But it keeps the heavy hand of government from enforcing unnecessary restrictions—especially on students who should be focused on learning.

Predictably, the liberal left has had a meltdown. The board president at Northland Preparatory Academy in Flagstaff went on a tirade in a now-removed Facebook post, referring to parents and students who disagree with mask mandates as “the worst of humanity.”

And some schools have decided that their first lesson for the year is to teach kids it’s ok to violate the law. A growing number of Arizona school districts are openly defying Governor Ducey by requiring students and staff to wear masks if they want to set foot on campus.

Our children have become pawns in a game of COVID chess—all at the mercy of the kings and queens on school boards throughout the state.

While parents are speaking up, they need help. Thankfully, Arizona’s House and Senate Republicans heard their cries. Last week, a group led by state representative Jake Hoffman called for Governor Ducey to do something.

And earlier this week, he delivered. Governor Ducey announced an initial $10 million investment for Arizona’s COVID-19 Recovery Benefit Program. This means that families facing financial and education barriers due to unnecessary school closures and mandates that are not in compliance with state law now have a choice.

Starting on August 20, families that have a total household income up to 350 percent of the Federal Poverty Level can apply for up to $7,000 per student for needs related to childcare, transportation, online tutoring, and tuition. Parents and families that apply simply need to show that their current school is isolating, quarantining, or subjecting children to physical COVID-19 restraints—like requiring the use of masks or giving preferential treatment to those who have been vaccinated.

This is an important decision by Governor Ducey. And it’s the right one. While COVID was certainly an issue that warranted some action, it never should have included trampling on the rights of the people.

And our kids should never be forced to wear masks. No study has been completed to back them up, and there’s a very good chance that widespread masking could cause children psychological harm.

School districts need to follow the law. And if they don’t, they should be held accountable. It’s time to put the power back into the hands of parents. They should be given a choice to find alternative learning solutions for their children because students deserve access to the best education possible.

Thankfully, Governor Ducey took a step in the right direction this week by putting the needs and development of our kids first.

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