The board of trustees for the West Ada School Board met for their regular board meeting on January 24, 2022. Due to high COVID transmission in the community and within the district, and due to difficulty keeping schools open because of high rates of student and staff absence, COVID protocol was on the agenda. There was a great deal of recognition and gratitude for the extraordinary efforts of the staff at West Ada School District. We also very much appreciate the amazing efforts of our Boise staff and recognize their dedication and the extra burden they've been carrying for the past two years (and the past two weeks!) so, even though not related to the West Ada meeting, THANK YOU BOISE TEACHERS AND STAFF!!
We won't recap the entire meeting, but wanted to share a summary of the board of trustee comments, these two in particular. For a more detailed summary, keep reading.
Trustee Johnson 1:22:25
We're at a different stage now than in the past 2 years.
Didn't have vaccines then
Spread and severity are very different now
Absence rates among students and staff are a bigger problem now
Trustee Ozuna 1:29:55
"I'm a mask supporter, I always have been.... right now, I don't know how I feel about masks"
Less efficacy now and come with challenges
Boise also has high case counts even though they have mandatory masks
States with even tighter protocol than Idaho are having the same challenges
Trustee Frasure 1:34:05
Going back to the issue of freedom, recognizing those who want to mask and recognizing there are many who struggle with masking
Teachers are strapped and need our support. Sign up to volunteer or sub, if you can (Boise needs this, too! Help where you can or consider signing up as a sub!)
"Part of freedom is being willing to make freedom possible"
Need to recognize and respect both sides of the masking issue and give options for our parents, teachers and community
Trustee Redford 1:36:50
Director of IDHW confirmed even though more contagious, hospitalization rates are lower
Many countries in Europe are dropping COVID protocol and mandates
24 states are already on the downswing of Omicron so we likely already are or will be soon
Many other Idaho districts like Melba, Marsing, etc. haven't been doing any of these protocol the entire time
"It's time to move forward"
Trustee Coffelt 1:40:00
Data overload creates fear and makes people grasp for a "fix". There is no "fix".
Doctors are seeing a 30-50% positivity rate
Masking kids in school is pointless with such high transmission and positivity rates
We can't control anything if we're the only ones masking
It doesn't sit well with [him] to have kids protecting adults
Cloth masks aren't effective and medical-grade masks aren't appropriate for a school setting
There is a significant Social Emotional impact on kids
1:43:50 He spoke with Boise Board President Wagers and they see that the case rates are comparable between the two districts as a percentage, even though West Ada is nearly twice the size of Boise and Boise has been masked all year
"If masks were the fix, then we'd be seeing it next door"
How reliable are the case counts with the at home tests and how can we verify the accuracy of the at-home tests?
IDHW is 30k+ cases behind with their reporting so how accurate are any of the dashboards anyway?
The data is in, cloth masks aren't working. Case counts aren't working. Quarantining isn't working. Limiting activities isn't working. There is no "fix". These protocol are causing fear, stress, anxiety, extra burden on our staff and families and negatively impacting our children and their education. We have the perfect comparison right next door, in West Ada, who started the year with mask opt-outs, then had easily-obtainable mask exemptions and have been mask-free since after Thanksgiving and their case counts are similar to Boise's.
Please e-mail: Trustees@BoiseSchools.org
"If masks were 'the fix', we'd be seeing it next door [in Boise]"
-West Ada Trustee Rusty Coffelt
"It's time to move FORWARD"
-West Ada Trustee Angie Redford