MERIDIAN, Idaho — Kids in the state's largest school district can now take off their masks.
The West Ada Board of Trustees voted 5-0 at its meeting Tuesday night to make face masks optional for the 2021-2022 school year. It was mandatory last semester.
There are mixed feelings about the decision among parents.
West Ada spokeswoman Char Jackson says there are four modified schools in the district that are still in session. Masks are optional outside, at recess, and on the playground. But come Thursday masks will be optional in the classroom.
There were protests, complaints and now a decision.
"We will continue to have other measures in place like handwashing and distancing, if necessary," Jackson said.
She says the district promised parents to mandate masks until the end of the school year.
West Ada made good on that promise, but this latest decision on masks comes too early for parents like Farid Anani.
"I believe people should continue until we are out of this mess and the pandemic is behind us," Anani said.
Right now, children under the age of 12 are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Anani says if those kids are not vaccinated they should be wearing a mask.
"If we take it too easy too soon, we may wind back where we were a year ago," he said.
Anani says parents have the right to decide what is best for their children. Though he stands by the sentiment, masks are necessary for the unvaccinated.
The West Ada School District says the decision was made in part by a trend of vaccinations.
In a statement to parents and staff they say, "families, students and community members continue to get vaccinated throughout our schools and we expect this trend to continue as the vaccine becomes more available to younger age groups."
Pfizer says vaccinations in children under 12 could begin in the fall, but trails are still underway.
"I'm not here to advocate for one opinion over another, everybody has their own convictions, I guess," Anani said.
So for now, Anani is focusing on what he can control.
"I'm making sure that my kid is vaccinated before returning to school," he said.
KTVB reached out to other school districts in the Treasure Valley.
Nampa says they've been optional on mask wearing since May.
Kuna has been optional since June 4, and Caldwell voted Monday to make masks recommended, not required.
We also reached out to the Boise School District and are still waiting to hear back from them.
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