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West Ada schools' mask requirement extended

The school board held a special board meeting on Wednesday night to discuss COVID-19 protocols for the remainder of the school year.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Masks or face coverings will continue to be required for students and staff in the West Ada School District after health officials laid out how masks help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The decision to extend the mask rule came following a special board meeting Wednesday night. Trustees also voted that instead of contract tracing when positive cases are identified within a school - which has proven difficult - the district will instead notify all parents and students from the classrooms where the positive case attended.

The board may reconsider the mask rule - and could opt to do away with the requirement - if COVID-19 vaccines are approved for children ages 5-11, if the community spread in Ada County falls to a moderate level, or if both St. Luke's and Saint Alphonsus hospitals in the Treasure Valley move out of crisis standards of care. 

"Our recommendation would be universal masking indoors whenever it is feasible. Obviously, if students are having lunch they cant mask but if they are indoors and in a school setting, they should be masked," Central District Health Director Russ Duke said. "The risk is close contact with others,"

Ada County has had nearly 65,000 cases and 708 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. More than 3,100 Idahoans have died statewide.

The school board accepted public input for the Wednesday meeting through written comments only, but did not take public testimony during the four-hour meeting.

The entire meeting is available to watch below. 

The board initially voted Sept. 24 to make masks mandatory for students and staff in the district, a reversal of a previous policy that allowed parents to opt their children out of the requirement by filling out a form. Before the opt-out of the face mask requirement was suspended, nearly a third of the more than 40,000 students in the state's largest school district had opted out of the policy.

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