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Nampa School District Board of Trustees rejects plan to require face masks

The Nampa Board of Trustees met at a special board meeting to discuss the 2021-2022 back-to-school revision plan on Wednesday.

NAMPA, Idaho — After a heated back and forth from the Board of Trustees, the Nampa School District will continue to keep masks optional on school campuses. 

The Nampa Board of Trustees met at a special board meeting to discuss the 2021-2022 back-to-school revision plan on Wednesday night.

Dozens of students, families and patrons attended the meeting. Both sides of the debate, those who wanted a face-covering requirement district-wide and those who wanted it to continue to be optional, were represented.

Board of Trustee Mike Kipp motioned to require a facial covering for all students and staff in the district. He believed that it is the best option to keep schools opens. With the current number of student and staff COVID-19 positive cases and related absences, he said the current plan is not on the correct trajectory to keep Nampa students in in-person learning. 

Kipp mentioned if cases and absences begin to stabilize, then he thinks the district should be open to having an opt-out option or review the requirement in the second quarter.

The school district noticed a large increase in student absences since the beginning of this school year.

Last week, the Nampa School District’s COVID-19 dashboard showed more than 100 students were sick and more than 2,600 students were in quarantine. The school district's spokesperson, Kathleen Tuck, told KTVB many of the absences were not COVID-19 positive cases, but are COVID-19 related. She added not every student is absent because of the coronavirus, but it did play a large role in why students were out.

Board of Trustees chair Mandy Simpson said the data presented at Tuesday’s board meeting in regard to student performances in Nampa SD had decreased in the last 18 months. She worried that if cases continue, schools may have to go back to remote learning which would be an injustice for students.

Board Trustee Betsy Keller mentioned while data shows more than 2,600 students were reported absent in school, more than 11,000 students were still in school. Because they do not know why many of the students were out of school, she views it as parents being safe and keeping kids home if they think they’re sick.

Keller does not think that the burden of masking should have to fall on the shoulders of the children.

She added that she thinks the school district should not have to mask up when the Nampa community around them is not following the same guidelines.

Trustee Kim Rost argued the data she found from South West District Health showed there was little to no evidence of students passing COVID-19 to their households or teachers.

Rost said she hears from many students, families and teachers that plead for her and the Board to not require masking.

Kipp said there are teachers and parents who are also begging the board to enact a mask mandate.

Rost said if superintendent Paula Kellerer sees an issue arise at campuses in regard to COVID-19 cases, she has the authority to adjustments to schools’ plans, which she has done twice this year.

She believes the motion will only impair students learning even more than what the district has seen in the last 18 months. 

“I don’t want anything to do with motion or any resemblance,” Rost said.

Rost told the board she wants to see more data on coronavirus in Nampa schools before she can make a decision. She thinks more public input and a survey to teachers could add to that data.

Simpson believed that while she realizes not everyone thought there was a reason to meet on this subject, she said it’s important to have this conversation.

The board took a vote on Kipp’s motion and it was denied, 2-2.

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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