Principal makes masks mandatory, bucking district policy

The principal of a rural elementary school bogged down by illnesses and absences is circumventing her school district’s masks-optional policy by making them mandatory at her school starting next week.

Megan Christiansen

“Victor Elementary is my family, and I’m watching them crumble in front of me,” principal Megan Christiansen wrote in an impassioned letter to parents and staff Thursday. “As their leader, it’s time to stand up and stop what’s happening.”

Christiansen’s school will require students, staff and visitors to wear masks starting Monday, her letter reads. The decision came with the “full support” of the superintendent and school board members, she told EdNews Friday.

Victor Elementary closed its doors for half of this week after at least seven teachers and 60 students called in sick.

The closure followed the Teton School District’s refusal to comply with a city mask mandate last month, as confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbed in Victor and across Idaho, which entered a crisis standards of care scenario Thursday as hospitals fill with mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.

“I realize our admin team has decided on district-wide mask choice, but choice doesn’t work in a K-3 building with our most vulnerable children and staff,” Christiansen wrote.

The superintendent and other administrators participated in the decision, Teton superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme said Friday.

As of Thursday, Eastern Idaho Public Health reported 44 active COVID-19 cases, or 37.8 per 10,000 people in Teton County.

Victor Elementary serves some 140 students.

Here’s Christiansen’s letter:

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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