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Some Idaho School Boards Get Rid Of Mask Mandates

Tom Michael
Boise State Public Radio

As COVID-19 risk levels continue to improve in most of Idaho’s health districts, some entities are choosing to relax health measures. That includes a growing number of school districts.



All of Idaho’s largest school districts are bringing students back for in-person learning, and four out of five of them are requiring students to wear masks, according to Idaho EdNews

Most Magic Valley students have been in classrooms since the beginning of the calendar year. Twin Falls School District returned to in-person instruction four days a week in January, and moved to five days a week in February. 

Now, with declining coronavirus cases in the South Central Public Health District, some school districts are ditching mask requirements for students. The Jerome School District got rid of its mask requirement earlier this month. This week, Twin Falls and Buhl districts are considering the same move. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says schools should stick with masks. The agency recently said masked students could safely be three feet apart, instead of six. 

Idaho health officials have expressed concerns about discarding health measures as the tally of the new variants increases.

Still, as case numbers began increasing in eastern Idaho, Eastern Idaho Public Health began rolling back its mask requirements, eventually declaring it would no longer issue them. Following that announcement, the Bonneville Joint School District, with about 12,000 students, decided it wouldn’t mandate masks either. That’s despite the fact that the county has the highest case rate in the state right now.

By loosening COVID-19 mitigation efforts, like mask mandates, school districts are part of a larger statewide trend. Cities are dumping them, too. And as of last week, after the Panhandle Public Health District removed its mask mandate for five North Idaho counties, none of Idaho’s seven public health districts has a mask mandate in place. 

A map from the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (which has not been updated to reflect the Panhandle Public Health District’s decision), shows the few cities and counties in the state where masks are still required. 

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen  
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