Teton school shuns city mask mandate

The Teton School District says it won’t comply with the city of Victor’s recent mask mandate, and masks in school will remain optional, according to documents obtained by EdNews Monday.

Teton superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme

“After consulting with our legal counsel,” Teton Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme wrote to the city on Friday, the district “respectfully asserts” that it is an “independent governmental entity” and that the city “does not have jurisdiction or authority over school district matters.”

Victor mayor Will Frohlich last week issued a city order, effective Monday, requiring “all individuals, regardless of vaccination status to wear a mask or face covering when indoors in a public setting.”

That includes Victor Elementary, the only one of Teton’s eight schools operating within Victor’s city limits.

Frohlich’s order came in partial response to the districts’ recent decision not to require masks in its schools, Victor Interim City Administrator Troy Butzlaff told EdNews Monday.

“I am disappointed by the superintendent’s refusal to comply with our masking requirements when our collective goal should be to keep our schools open and our children safe,” Frohlich wrote in a press release Friday.

With schools reopening across the state in recent weeks, confirmed coronavirus case numbers have flattened somewhat. But child case numbers continue to climb. Teton County has 42 active COVID-19 cases, a rate of 34.6 per 10,000 people, according to numbers updated Friday from Eastern Idaho Public Health.

Woolstenhulme said the district will follow its “Safe Return to School” plan and that the city’s order for schools to comply conflicts with state law.

“The authority of cities to govern is limited where expressly prohibited by law, or where it would conflict with Idaho law or its constitution,” he wrote.

Check back with EdNews for more on this developing story. 

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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