MERIDIAN, Idaho — West Ada School District board members voted on Tuesday night to no longer require students to wear a face mask outside. However, masks are still required to be worn inside for the remainder of the school year.
This came as bittersweet news for a group of parents, teachers and students who wanted masks to be optional for the last few weeks of the year.
The group is called Smile West Ada and is comprised of about 1,700 people from across the district. They were outside the district office in full force before the meeting wearing yellow shirts and masks.
The group’s founder, David Binett, is a parent in the district. He said they're not anti-mask and they do believe masks work in slowing the spread, but they simply wanted their children to have the option to wear a mask or not.
“We have the opportunity for a dry run now, to learn from the process and really nothing magical is going to happen that is going to make this decision easier,” he said. “Our numbers are exceedingly low, so unless we're waiting for zero, which I hope is not the case, then we'd like to make this move now so we can learn from the dry run and take advantage of that and enter the Fall with a nice strong start.”
Individuals who wanted the board to keep the mask policy in place were also present during Tuesday night's meeting.
“[Masks] protect the people around you, and it goes back to that whole herd immunity and the people who can't necessarily afford to be out in public spaces,” Rocky Mountain High School senior Jasper Ryan said.
Ryan expressed concern when the district returned to full-time in-person learning and said some students have no problem wearing a mask to keep other people safe.
“If we were to make masks optional, it is going to be putting all of those people in danger,” Ryan said. “If the CDC and the experts, the scientists and doctors approve us to take off the masks, then all for it. But until then, we need to be listening to the experts and keeping others safe.”
The board did not make any decisions regarding the fall but will develop safety protocols as the new school year approaches.
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