FILE - In this April 10, 2021, file photo, parents and students protest students wearing masks to school during a rally in Farmington, Utah. Dozens of school districts around the country have eliminated requirements for students to wear masks, and many more are likely to ditch mask requirements before the next academic year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah will not require masks in K-12 schools for the last week of the academic year, Gov. Spencer Cox announced Thursday.

The school mask mandate will end whenever each district has their last week of classes, Cox said during his weekly COVID-19 briefing. He said schools have the option to keep the mask requirement in place through the end of the school year.

A mask order for K-12 schools previously was expected to end June 15, when most districts let out for summer.

The Republican governor previously defended his administration’s decision to mandate masks in schools over parent protests but had said the state had no plans to require masks for K-12 students next fall.

Cox told The Associated Press last week that students who are at a higher risk can protect themselves by wearing N95 masks to school or using remote learning if their school offers it. Those decisions will be up to families rather than the government, he said.

Requiring masks in schools has been contentious for Utah parents over the last year. Granite School District board members were forced to adjourn a meeting and call police earlier this month after 30 to 40 anti-mask parents began shouting.

The Utah Education Association has said that mask requirements for teachers, staff and students “should remain in place until public health experts signal is it safe to remove them.”