BSD's Mask Mandate... is it really to keep the kids safe, or is there something else going on?
Updated: Jan 23, 2022
Boise School District was one of the last school districts in Idaho to return students to full time in-person learning in the 20/21 school year. Many schools around Idaho avoided long term use of the remote or hybrid model and allowed students to attend in-person learning safely all last school year.
On 11/2/21 Boise closed all of their schools for one day of learning due to Election Day. To the best of our knowledge, BSD was the only district in the Treasure Valley (and perhaps in the state) that made this decision and this is not standard practice. Some schools in the district required students to attend virtual learning with a wide array of academic support while other schools sent home worksheets and packets and no contact was made between teacher and student. All other schools managed to keep students a priority and provided in-person learning. Kids were not able to access high quality education (which has been suggested as a priority to Boise) and children missed out on meals and quality supervision as many parents had no choice but to work.
Boise School District remains to be one of the last districts in the state of Idaho to adjust and adapt to protocols in the best interest of our kids. They continue to be one of the only school districts who refuses to listen and engage with parents as advocates for their kids' education and health-related matters.
Boise is currently one of the ONLY districts in the entire state of Idaho requiring students to wear masks. The other two are Blaine County and McCall-Donnelly, along with a handful of individual charter and private schools..
Boise School District suggests that wearing a mask is what keeps us in school. They have created a false binary which has convinced many parents and staff that requiring masking is the ONLY way to keep us learning in-person? But…. Is this the ONLY way to provide a safe education?
How did other Idaho students all over the state attend IN-PERSON learning for much of the 2020-2021 school year safely while Boise students were left at home for most of the year?
Why did Boise close learning for one day during the 2021 school year when most all other Idaho schools had a strategy to make school remain safe while voting occurred? Especially considering 2021 was an off-year election with minimal options on the ballot and anticipated small voter turnout?
And most importantly and relevant to today:
How are other schools able to drop mask mandates, quarantine and contact tracing and yet still provide a safe environment for their students and community and full access to enrichment opportunities, but Boise can’t achieve this same measure?
Do our Boise School District Administrators and Board members really have our kids' best interest at-heart or their own personal agendas and political biases that have divided our world today in-mind when making school based decisions?
“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.
And further the district made this statement in a newsletter:
“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 backwards, but our top priority is providing students with a high-quality education in a safe and effective learning environment.”
Where and how are they getting these “facts” and or “statements” and what evidence do they have to support this? One parent pull a public records request to validate the above statement from President Dave Wagers and the only public record the district could return was a link to the District’s Covid Positive/Probable and Quarantine data spreadsheet.
Um…. what? How does this verify that masks work in schools?
Who is “FORCING” Boise School District to do this? And why is Boise School District one of the only districts in Idaho being “forced” to take a step backwards?
How have so many other Idaho schools maintained a “safe and effective learning environment” while making masks optional? Or is Boise one of the only “safe effective schools” in Idaho?
What data is the district collecting to make such statements? Do they have evidence or are they self selecting what data they look at and what resources they use to drive their personal decision?
Should we assume that most other schools around Idaho don’t have a safe and effective learning environment since according to our superintendent “ Requiring MASKS is the safest way for us to provide in-person school, five-days-a-week”
If all of the above “statements” or “opinions” in the school newsletters are true then BSD should have:
Lower rates of COVID at school than comparable districts
A High rate of Average Daily Attendance compared to other districts
If “We know from last school year that face masks work to stop the spread”
And if “Requiring everyone in our schools to wear masks is the safest way for us to provide in-person school, five-days-a-week”
Then surely COVID case rates and Average Daily attendance in Boise Schools will outshine all of those other schools around Idaho that are not following mask requirements for all students.
If BSD schools are “effective” then they should have a high rate of academic achievement. Do they?
If Boise leaders mean what they say and a “top priority is providing students with a high-quality education in a safe and effective learning environment.”
Then: Boise Schools should have some of the highest academic achievement and or growth rates in the state of Idaho, especially through covid?
Let's take a look at items 1 and 2, we’ll leave item 3 for a future post (spoiler alert, the achievement scores for Boise don’t look good):
Lower COVID cases than similar districts with less strict protocol???
West Ada is right next door and has had more lax policies this entire school year: mask opt outs, easily-obtained medical exemptions and no mask mandate since before Thanksgiving and yet they’ve had routinely LOWER or comparable case rates than Boise. For example, for the week of January 9, West Ada reported 865 student + staff cases, which equates to roughly 2% of student and staff population infected with covid (roughly 39k students and 4k staff) and Boise reported 602 cases (plus 44 probable cases), which equates to roughly 2.34% (2.5% if probable cases are included) infected students and staff (roughly 23k students and 2.7k staff). This means that Boise had a 19% higher population-adjusted case rate than West Ada, but West Ada has had optional masks since Thanksgiving, no contact tracing, minimal quarantine, normal events, sports, activities, etc.
Furthermore, Nampa School District's Policy treats COVID like any other illness: wash hands, keep the school clean, stay home when you're sick, etc. and they, too, have a LOWER CASE RATE for the week of January 9, as compared to Boise with 225 infections that week, which equal roughly 1.57% of infected students and staff (13k students and 1.3k staff) meaning Boise had roughly 50% more infections for the same week, as compared to Nampa.
High rates of daily attendance compared to other districts?????
We put in a public records request to the State Board of Education for ADA (average daily attendance) for 11 school districts around Idaho from the beginning of the Fall Semester through September 30, 2021 collecting data from a variety of schools that have had various mask mandates.
LOOK what we found!
Who had the highest Average Daily Attendance (ADA)? Was it BSD?
Was BSD in the top three for ADA? How about the TOP 5?
Were the top ADA schools those school(s) that required MASKS?
Did the “mask required” schools fare well with overall average daily attendance in comparison to the other schools that DID NOT require masks?
We also put in a records request for academic achievement so stay tuned for an update there.
SO, to summarize….
BSD has one of the LOWEST average daily attendance rates but is one of the ONLY schools in Idaho requiring masks AND has HIGHER covid case rates than its neighboring district, West Ada, which has had more lax covid policies all year. Please, Boise School District, explain HOW your policies are “the safest way for us to provide in-person school, five-days-a-week” because the data we’re seeing shows the exact opposite.