When schools in Ada County reopen next month, they’ll have to comply with an expanded mask mandate approved Tuesday night by public health officials.
Central District Health’s board signed off on the order, which requires masks to be worn at all times inside a school building, with few exceptions. A face covering may be taken off when a person is alone in an office with the door shut, or a teacher could take their mask off while instructing students if they are more than 10 feet away.
The mandate applies to all public and private schools in Ada County.
State Rep. Megan Blanksma (R-Hammett) was the lone no vote. She said the board should’ve waited to vote until next week when it would also consider new guidelines on how to classify the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in each county.
“It would be foolish to expand a mandate without taking in the additional information that would be available to us,” Blanksma said.
But Dr. Ted Epperly, a family physician who’s also on the board, said now is not the time to pull back on policies that can help slow the spread of the virus.
“We’re in substantial community spread of a major pandemic that now we’re starting to fill our hospitals, we’re seeing increased deaths from this, we all knew this was going to happen,” Epperly said. “It’s now happening.”
Central District Health didn’t extend Ada County’s mask order to include childcare facilities as originally proposed.
Mike Kane, the board’s attorney, encouraged them to delay the vote because the term “childcare facility” was not well defined. For instance, Kane said it could include juvenile detention facilities or foster care scenarios, in addition to daycares.
The board will reconsider the issue at a later date.
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