Arizona Governor Doug Ducey Blocks Public Universities From Requiring Masks or Vaccines

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order on Tuesday that prevents public higher education institutions like Arizona State University from mandating draconian restrictions on students who choose to not receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The executive order, called “Protecting Student Access To Higher Education”, stops vaccine mandates from public schools in multiple facets beyond simply just requiring it or not. It is important to note that the order solely applies to public institutions; private institutions still possess the ability to force vaccines and masks on students as they please.

This includes prohibiting public schools from conducting frequent, stringent tests and forced masking for the unvaccinated, as Arizona State University announced they would require of students just before Ducey’s order.

Some of the more relevant lines of the executive order can be found below:

WHEREAS, on June 14, 2021, Arizona State University communicated a new policy to all students mandating that they be vaccinated prior to returning to campus for class; and

WHEREAS, the policy requires that studends who are not vaccinated or choose to not share their vaccination status will be subject to invasive restrictions such as daiuly health checks, twice weekly testing and mandated masking wearing; and

WHEREAS, this policy has the potential to treat those with religious beliefs about vaccinations differently; and

WHEREAS, Article V, Section 4, of the Arizona Constitution provides that the Governor “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed;” and 

WHEREAS, both federal and state law allow individuals the option to accept or refuse vaccinations…” 

The order also explains that the institutions cannot, “place any conditions on attendance or participation in classes or academic activities, including but not limited to mandatory testing and mandatory mask usage, if a person chooses not to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine or disclose that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, unless such requirement has been mandated by law in the State of Arizona.”

Prior to Ducey’s order, ASU had planned to force twice-weekly testing and masks on students who would not share COVID-19 vaccination records with the school.

ASU spokesperson Katie Paquet responded to the news, insisting that they had never planned to force vaccines on students.

“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,”

Paquet seemingly contradicted herself right after, justifying the draconian measures she and others planned to enact on returning students in the Fall.

“This is, this was, an effort to keep not only the ASU community safe but the larger community as well,” she said.