Idaho Falls, Nampa and Pocatello-Chubbuck make masks optional

Students and staff in the Idaho Falls, Nampa and Pocatello-Chubbuck school districts are no longer required to wear masks.

The changes follow new recommendations from the CDC and the lifting of mask mandates from state leaders more than a year after they were put in place.

Other districts are considering similar decisions. The Boise School District could still life its mask mandate, according to an email sent to patrons. The district’s next scheduled meeting is set for May 28.

The state’s largest district, West Ada, voted last week to keep its indoor mask mandate for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. Masks are optional outdoors. District Chief Communication Officer Char Jackson said on Monday that there is no indication that the mask mandate will be discussed again this school year. The next scheduled board meeting for West Ada trustees is on May 25.

Here’s a closer look at decisions from Idaho Falls, Nampa and Pocatello-Chubbuck:

Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls trustees on Monday nixed the district’s COVID-19 operation plan, which included a mask mandate during the pandemic. The change goes into effect immediately, though students can still wear masks if they choose to, Superintendent George Boland told parents in an email.

Idaho Falls’ decision follows tense exchanges between trustees over mask requirements and pushback from some community members. On March 9, trustee Elizabeth Cogliati survived a recall effort over her votes for mask requirements and other changes during the pandemic. Trustee Lara Hill will face a similar attempt during Tuesday’s election.

Nampa

Nampa trustees voted on Monday night to make masks optional. The vote passed 3-2 with Kim Rost (who made the motion), Betsy Keller and Allison Westfall voting yes. The vote followed a failed motion by Mike Kipp to have masks be mandatory indoors and optional outdoors and during meal times. That motion failed on a 2-3 vote, with Kipp and Mandy Simpson voting yes.

Pocatello-Chubbuck

Trustees in the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District on Tuesday also suspended their mask requirement, effective immediately, District spokeswoman Courtney Fisher said in a news release.

Masks for students, staff and visitors are still optional, said Fisher, who also shared details for the district’s upcoming graduation ceremonies at Holt Arena:

  • Masks are optional for attendees and those graduating.
  • Both sides of the arena will be available for seating on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Attendees should still follow guidelines for physical distancing.
  • Graduates will be seated in rows with space to accommodate physical distancing guidelines.

Check back here for more on what other districts across the state decide. 

Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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