The debate over mandatory masks is headed to school.
That is, Central District Health will discuss an order Tuesday that would require Ada County students to don masks when schools reopen in a few weeks. The proposal would require masks in all public schools, private schools and charter schools, as well as in colleges and universities.
The order would also mandate masks for children who go to daycare facilities in Ada County.
Central District Health, which oversees public health matters in Ada, Elmore, Boise, and Valley counties, first mandated masks on July 14. CDH was the first district health agency to take such a step. Since then, at least two more district health agencies have mandated masks within their boundaries.
Central District Health’s new order would mandate masks in educational settings, with very limited exceptions. The draft language says that educators who can teach from 10 feet away may remove their masks, as well as those who are in private offices with their doors shut.
Whatever the board decides, the debate will likely ignite a firestorm among parents worried about their students’ health. Many parents oppose mandatory masks for kids and believe a socially-distanced learning experience will harm students.
Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman wrote Sunday that the state and local school districts should do more to accommodate those families worried about learning in the Covid era.
“It’s time to get creative when it comes to the future of schooling,” Hoffman wrote. “It’s not enough to simply order kids into masks, move schedules around, and throw in some digital learning. Let’s give the power back to the parents, so that they can give their kids the education they need and deserve, instead of a one-sized approach that is a fig leaf for the preservation of the existing system.” (Read Hoffman’s column here.)
Those wishing to comment on Central District Health’s mandatory mask order must do so by 2 pm on Monday. Comments should be emailed to [email protected].
Read the full draft order below: