Despite the best effort to avoid another school year of mask mandates, the Boise School District says it's bringing back the mask mandates for the upcoming school year.

The decision was made this week during a special board meeting. The move is part of the district's COVID-19 Response Plan. Students and staff will now be required to wear masks while indoors. The action also directs them to practice social distancing when possible.  

The move was followed by Boise Mayor Lauren McLean holding a town hall meeting with medical experts from throughout the Treasure Valley medical community. Their message was to encourage more Idahoans to get vaccinated. Currently, close to 50% of Ada County residents are vaccinated, according to public records.

The school board detailed their decision in a recent release citing guidance from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local data regarding the increased levels of community transmission of COVID-19.  You can see the entire meeting in the video below.

"We know from last school year that face masks work to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Boise School Board President Dave Wagers. "We're disappointed that we have been forced to take what feels like a step backward, but our top priority is providing students with a high-quality education in a safe and effective learning environment."

"Requiring everyone in our schools to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status, along with other proven mitigation measures, is the safest way for us to provide in-person school, five-days-a-week," added Boise School District Superintendent Coby Dennis.

According to Central District Health, the quarantine will not be required if a student is exposed to COVID-19 in a school setting if both students are wearing a mask and the student who is a close contact has no symptoms.

The district says it will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and consult health officials in considering possible changes or modifications to the District's COVID-19 Response Plan, as needed. The start of the 2021-2022 school year begins on Monday, August 16, 2021.

On another related education note, a group of West Ada parents is lobbying the district to make masks optional and not mandatory. 

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