BOISE, Idaho — Gov. Brad Little says he would support local leaders who want to implement mask orders for their schools, but does not think that is necessary everywhere in the state.
He also said he is open to calling a special session of the legislature to address the challenges of the November election.
He made those comments Thursday morning during the taping of this week's Viewpoint focusing on the latest coronavirus developments in Idaho.
Below are excerpts from the interview, starting with his response when asked if he thinks health districts should make wearing masks mandatory in all Idaho schools.
Gov. Brad Little: "No, I don't, but I will support them. We've got some counties where there's not one confirmed case. We've got counties where there is zero positivity. So what's necessary in one area is not necessary in another."
Doug Petcash: Governor, do you see all Idaho schools opening with in-person learning in the coming weeks?
Gov. Brad Little: "Doug, I really want that with all my heart and all my soul. We have a constitutional obligation. We have a moral obligation. We always have an issue in Idaho with the gap between the kids that are really blessed. They've got parents who help them. They have the skills. But we've always got these kids that kind of fall through the gap. That's why it's in our Constitution that we have a uniform, thorough system of public schools."
Doug Petcash: Governor, the general election is coming up in less than 100 days now. How do you think it should be carried out?
Gov. Brad Little: "Well, elections in Idaho are run by the Secretary of State and the county clerks. So I'm always going to default to what their recommendation is. We know that we're going to have a shortage of poll workers. We know we have some of our traditional polling places where it doesn't facilitate physical distancing. So, you look at that reality that out there. And the other thing we know is we've got a lot more voters who are going to vote absentee because they signed up in May for an absentee ballot, and if they signed up in the correct way, they'll be sent one for November. so given all those certainties that are out there and uncertainties, I have told the Legislature, I have told the clerks, I have told the Secretary of State, if they've got a certain package of legislation that they need to facilitate the election, I'll look at it, I'll be open to it, and if necessary, we'll call a special session to address it."
The governor also discussed what the state is doing to make sure schools have enough masks, face shields and hand sanitizer for students and staff, how Covid-19 testing is going, and how long the state will feel the economic effects of the pandemic. He says he is expecting a three-year impact on the state budget.
You can watch the full interview with the governor on Viewpoint with Doug Petcash this Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. on KTVB.
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