Gov. Ducey: Arizona college students can't be mandated to take COVID-19 vaccine, wear masks

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order Tuesday banning colleges from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine or masks in order to go to class. 

Public universities will also not be able to mandate COVID-19 tests.

The order came after Arizona State University said unvaccinated students would be selected for COVID testing and would be required to wear face masks on campus and participate in daily health checks. 

“The vaccine works, and we encourage Arizonans to take it. But it is a choice and we need to keep it that way,” Ducey said in a Tuesday statement. “Public education is a public right, and taxpayers are paying for it. We need to make our public universities available for students to return to learning. They have already missed out on too much learning. From K-12 to higher education, Arizona is supporting in-person learning.”

Ducey called the university’s requirements “bad policy, with no basis in public health.”

“Even the Biden administration has been more reasonable.”

He included a quote from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky. “The science demonstrates that if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected. It is the people who are not fully vaccinated in those settings, who might not be wearing a mask, who are not protected.” 

ASU spokesperson Katie Paquet told AZ Central that the university would comply with Ducey’s order. She emphasized that the school’s protocol had never amounted to a vaccine mandate. 

“We did not communicate a vaccine mandate. We reiterated our message that we expect students to get vaccinated given the health benefits, but also offered students a choice in the matter,” she said. 

Other Republicans had expressed outrage against the policy. 

 State Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, called the policy “blatantly discriminatory.”

“I find it troubling that ASU would even think to institute it,” Grantham said in a statement Tuesday. 

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