Leading into the 2021-2022 school year, the West Ada School District aimed to accommodate parents' and kids' wishes regarding the wearing of masks. Everyone wants to get back to a completely normal classroom setting where the happy faces of our kids aren't obstructed by annoying masks. But the spread of Covid-19 prevents that reality from happening. In an attempt to appease those against mask wearing, the district offered parents the choice to opt their kids out of having to do so. There was a form and everything.

Today the decision was made that it is simply too risky to make masks optional. Idaho has hit record highs again in Covid-19 cases, Idaho hospitals are now operating in crisis standards of care. An email sent to parents and guardians informs the following:

"To protect staff and students from the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, West Ada School District is requiring all staff, students, and visitors to wear masks when in a classroom and/or when social distancing is not possible, thus suspending all mask opt outs."

Other factors determining the current mandate:
- Covid-19 transmission alert level identified as red in Boise and Ada Counties by CDH and Ada County Health officials
- increased student quarantines diverting administrators and staff from daily duties to focus on contact tracing
- shortage of qualified substitute teaching staff

So now that masks are no longer optional, we've hit the "join 'em" stage of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." What does that mean? Let your kids use this as an opportunity to make a bold fashion statement.

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This is what Downtown Boise looked like during the first month of the pandemic back in 2019. A friend of mine took these photos with his son as the streets were empty and locked down to Idaho. This is a dark and quiet time that we'll never forget.

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