West Ada mask opt out

Parents form a steady line, outside the West Ada School District Training Center in Meridian, to turn in mask opt-out forms so their children can attend school without wearing a mask, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021.

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The West Ada School District announced Wednesday night it will begin mandating that students, staff and visitors wear masks in classrooms starting Friday, Sept. 10, writes Idaho EdNews reporter Blake Jones. Superintendent Derek Bub announced his decision the same day beloved West Ada high school teacher and coach Mike McCrady died due to complications from COVID-19.

“We talk about whether or not COVID impacts kids, but we’re talking about whether or not they get sick. But today, West Ada lost a teacher, and there are a ton of kids impacted by that teacher’s loss from COVID. So to say that (students) showing up in the hospital is the only impact of COVID on our kids is not accurate,” West Ada School Board Chair Amy Johnson said.

Bub announced his decision at the board’s Wednesday meeting. Trustees gave him authority to change district protocols earlier this summer.

The call was made “to protect staff, students and community from spread of (the) highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus,” as the variant “wreak(s) havoc on our state, local community, and is substantially disrupting our daily operations,” Bub said in an address to the board.

His decision drew supportive statements from board members, though one audience member yelled out, “We’re never gonna beat it. You guys are destroying our kids.”

Families of about 36% of West Ada’s 40,000 students had opted them out of masking as of Wednesday, but those opt-outs are off the table for now.

Masks will remain optional in the Nampa School District after trustees deadlocked 2-2 on the matter Wednesday night during a special meeting.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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