More Treasure Valley students started the new school year on Thursday.
The Kuna School District welcomed back nearly 5,000 students and the West Ada School District welcomed around 40,000 students. In the Kuna School District, masks are not required for now but the district will review policies every two weeks.
As we reported earlier this week, the West Ada Board of Trustees voted to mandate masks district-wide while giving parents the option to opt-out if they do not want their child wearing a mask at school. Hundreds of parents lined up outside the district office on Wednesday to submit the forms needed to exclude their children from the mask requirements.
A line of people are waiting at the West Ada School District Office to turn in mask opt-out forms for students in the school district. Without the opt-out form, students and staff are required to wear face masks while in the classroom.— Idaho News 6 (@IdahoNews6) August 25, 2021
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Both the West Ada and the Kuna School Districts say their goal is to keep students healthy and learning in the classroom five days a week. Over 45,000 students heading back to the classroom on Thursday – some with masks and some without.
“I saw a lot of smiling faces. A lot of parents walking their children to school which was really nice to see,” West Ada School District Chief Communication Officer Char Jackson said.
In the West Ada School District, 21% of parents have opted their child out of the mandatory mask requirement. But what happens if these students get exposed to COVID-19?
The district says it depends on if you had a mask or not.
“So if that person was exposed to positive cases and wearing a mask, they're able to leave quarantine and come to school and attend school activities. That would include sports but they are still asked to quarantine per CDH guidelines from gatherings, activities like that, but it allows them to leave quarantine and come to school. Now that positive case does still need to quarantine at home,” Jackson said.
The Kuna School District also welcomed students back to the classroom Thursday.
"We are beginning the school year with masks optional and then we are going to be monitoring cases in our schools and in the Kuna community. We have a dashboard for folks to watch that and should we hit certain levels, then it would become masks recommended and then perhaps masks required,” Kuna School District Communications Director Allison Westfall said.
Families can choose a virtual option if they want – but the goal of the district is to have students in the classroom fives days a week.
“We’re just really excited for the start of the school year. Our goal is to remain open every day and to serve students. It will take a community effort and so we want to make sure folks monitor their symptoms and stay home if they are not feeling well and keep everyone safe,” Westfall said.
West Ada teachers are also given the opportunity to opt-out of wearing a mask. According to the district school, principals will be working with building staff on the opt-out choice. Teachers will also fill out a form that states they would be going against the c-d-c recommendation and they will need to use their sick leave during a quarantine period after potential exposure.