Thousands of West Ada parents line up to opt their children out of masking

Parents lined up in droves to opt their children out of a mask requirement in Idaho’s largest school district Wednesday. The line eventually stretched around the district office building. Nik Streng/Idaho Education News

Thousands of parents swarmed the West Ada School District office Wednesday to opt their children out of having to wear masks at school.

Parents and guardians turned in 3,754 opt-out forms by 5 p.m. Wednesday, district spokeswoman Char Jackson told EdNews. By Thursday at 4 p.m., 23% of district students had a form turned in for them, Jackson said.

West Ada trustees on Tuesday met for over five hours before approving a mask mandate for staff. Students don’t have to mask up if their parents or legal guardians sign a permission slip.

On Wednesday morning, West Ada directed patrons to bring signed forms to the district office. Thousands of parents showed up as a result.

Katrina Endrizzi, who attended Tuesday’s board meeting to protest a mask mandate, said her two high schoolers were homeschooled last year because of issues tied to masks. Endrizzi was happy with how the district rolled the forms out.

“(The district) did a good job of communicating today,” she said.

Jared Lucas, an administrator for the Rally to Open West Ada Schools Facebook group and a member of the West Ada Parents Association, was also pleased with the process, but expressed frustration that it took place the day before school starts.

For Lucas, the opt-out process reflected last-minute decisions by the board last year, which he said weren’t always communicated clearly to parents.

The district began accepting forms at noon, and the line wrapped around the east end of the building near the parking lot at Renaissance High School.

West Ada Parents Association member Jared Lucas, right, campaigned for the group outside while parents waited to opt their children out of wearing masks in school. Nik Streng/Idaho Education News

While the line was long, it moved quickly. Some parents said they were only in line for about 10 minutes. Christie Brodie, who has two children in West Ada, called the opt-out form a minor inconvenience.

The district office will accept forms Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

District officials said they could terminate the opt-out option based on health trends.

West Ada originally dropped its mask mandate in June after spending all of the 2020-2021 school year with masks required.

Click here to see which school Idaho districts are requiring masks.

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