West Ada School District revoked an opt out option for its mask policy and is now temporarily requiring all students, staff and visitors wear face coverings beginning September 10.
Masks are now mandatory in the classroom or when social distancing is not possible. The district announced the change in a letter sent to district families, saying the change is based on high transmission alert levels in Boise and Ada Counties and rising COVID-19 hospitalizations. The district also said student quarantines throughout West Ada are rising and school administrators and nurses are contact tracing instead of doing their usual duties.
West Ada is also experiencing a "significant shortage" of qualified substitute teachers, with an average of 35% unfilled substitute jobs daily, according to the letter.
The district announced there is no set time frame on the temporary requirement, but will be reevaluated September 22. That evaluation will be based on COVID-19 data from the district and local healthcare system.
Any students involved in extra curricular activities, such as sports and band, are encouraged but not required to wear a face covering.
In a statement, West Ada Superintendent Dr. Derek Bub said the change comes as the delta variant continues to spread:
As one of the largest organizations in the Treasure Valley, as well as the State, we believe that we have a public health obligation. The virus has evolved, and so must we. Implementing a mask requirement for students (Pre-K-12) and staff is one way that West Ada can make a positive contribution to the community. While we are not convinced that this will solve the COVID-19 pandemic, as leaders, we feel obligated to do our part.
We are committed to working with our families, students, and staff to keep schools open, while prioritizing the health of our school communities. Your support and encouragement for our children during this challenging time as well as your compassion and respect for one another is greatly appreciated. We appreciate your commitment to your children and thank you in advance for your support of the temporary mask requirement while we make every effort for our students to remain in school.
As a school community I know we are all dedicated to providing the best for our children. I thank you for your continued encouragement, love, acceptance and open-mindedness as we tackle these challenging times together.