West Ada Mask Update, November 15, 2021
November 15 - Mask Requirement Update
The West Ada School District Board of Trustees approved a motion to transition to mask optional environment for students and staff in all district facilities while maintaining current positive case notification procedures beginning November 29, 2021.
Current notification procedures are as follows: Parents/guardians will be notified if a confirmed positive case was present in one or more of their student's classrooms, when that positive case was infectious. Parents/guardians are encouraged to continue to take precautions and monitor their children for COVID-19-like symptoms, keeping students home when symptomatic.
Masks are still required on the bus, as the Centers for Disease Control has issued a public health order requiring masks to be worn while on public transportation (this includes school buses). We must comply with a public health order.
Visitors/volunteers to our buildings are not required to wear masks.
We again want to thank our students, families, and staff for their efforts in maintaining our safety protocols and mitigation strategies and being supportive as we navigate through this school year.
October 14, 2021 -Mask Requirement Update
On September 8, West Ada implemented a temporary mask requirement of all staff, students, and visitors when in the classroom and/or when social distancing is not possible, thus suspending all mask opt-outs. This requirement was extended on September 24 through October 14 pending a Special Meeting of the Board.
On October 14, the West Ada School District Board of Trustees held a Special Meeting. The objective of the meeting was to provide a high level of transparency to the public and outline clear guidelines while allowing West Ada district administration the freedom to focus on educational and operational goals for the 2021-2022 school year. In attendance were School Board members, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Derek Bub, members of the West Ada School District Executive Team and local experts: Russell Duke, Central District Health; Kathryn Turner, Ph.D. MPH Deputy State Epidemiologist and Chief, Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention (remote); Elke Shaw Tulloch, Administrator, Idaho Division of Public Health (remote); Amy White, Attorney from Anderson, Julian & Hull LLP, Tracey Garner, West Ada Supervisor of Health Services; and Jeanne Buschine, West Ada Supervisor of Student Support Services. We thank those in attendance for their time and guidance that led to the following motion being passed by the School Board, 4-1:
Masks continue to be required in the classrooms. When positive cases are identified within the school, in lieu of contact tracing, the district will provide notification to all students/parents from the classrooms that the positive case attended. The district will revisit the mask requirement when any one of the following triggers are met:
- Crisis Standards of Care are withdrawn from St. Luke’s and St. Alphonsus hospitals in the Treasure Valley.
- Vaccine availability for students ages 5 – 11 (both doses and required inoculation period).
- Moderate community transmission within Ada County.
Effective immediately, the district will suspend traditional contact tracing measures and the practice of student quarantine due to close contact within the classroom. Parents/ guardians will be notified if a confirmed positive case was present in one or more of their student's classrooms, when that positive case was infectious. Parents/guardians are encouraged to continue to take precautions and monitor their children for COVID-19-like symptoms, keeping students home when symptomatic.
We commend our students, families, and staff for their efforts in maintaining our safety protocols and mitigation strategies and emphasize the continued need to do so while at school and out in our community.
On September 8, West Ada implemented a temporary mask requirement of all staff, students, and visitors when in the classroom and/or when social distancing is not possible, thus suspending all mask opt-outs. This requirement was extended on September 24 through October 8. At this time, the mask requirement will be extended. A Special School Board meeting will be held on October 13. This meeting will focus on Covid-19 protocols moving forward, and on indicators that will be used to make a decision on returning to a mask optional environment. Currently, significant time is being allocated by district administration to respond to questions and provide information regarding Covid protocols. The objective of this meeting is to provide a high level of transparency to the public and outline clear guidelines while allowing the West Ada district administration the freedom to focus on educational and operational goals for the 2021-2022 school year.
The meeting can be live-streamed from the convenience of your home via https://www.westada.org/Page/35419
Our collaborative efforts have shown our resilience, flexibility, and compassion towards one another as we embrace these obstacles together. There are continuously changing factors that impact us daily; however, we firmly believe that in-person instruction offers the most opportunity for overall student achievement and development to our students. We are committed to providing an excellent education.
Thank you for your support as, together, we strive to maximize in-person learning for our students. The health and safety of our students and educational team is of paramount importance to us all.
September 24, 2021- Mask Requirement Update
We want to thank our parents/guardians, students, teachers, and staff for complying with the mask requirement that began on September 10. When the requirement was communicated, we committed to reviewing the mask requirement to determine whether it could be lifted, and opt-outs restored, or if an extension of the mask requirement would be necessary after September 24.
We have continued to review our district data, hospital data, and the impact of COVID-19 on our health care systems. Our community is still at a level of high community transmission, and Idaho has expanded its Crisis Standards of Care statewide due to the variant surge.
During this review process we were not able to use Central District Health data as CDH is experiencing a backlog of cases due to the excessive volume of cases. They are currently processing up to 1,000 labs a day, with about 5,000/6,000 labs waiting to be processed in the queue.
Operationally, school administrators and nurses district-wide are still dedicating a substantial portion of their time to contact tracing, diverting them from their daily obligations and instructional leadership. We are also still experiencing a shortage of qualified substitute teachers; West Ada experiences an average of 30-35% unfilled substitute jobs daily.
With all of this in mind, the West Ada School District Administration has made the decision to maintain the mask requirement through October 8.
- Who does the mask requirement apply to?
- The mask requirement applies to all students (Pre-K-12), staff and visitors.
- How long will the mask requirement be in place?
- While an exact timeframe has not been determined, a temporary mask requirement will be put in place for two weeks.
- What if I submitted a mask opt-out form for my student?
- West Ada School District will continue to temporarily suspend all mask opt-outs received from families.
- What if my child has a medical mask exemption on file with the School Nurse?
- Medical mask exemptions on file with a student’s School Nurse will remain in place. Individual mask accommodations or exemptions as documented in a student’s IEP or 504 plan will remain in place.
- Please note: Students who have a medical mask exemption on file and who wear a face shield or do not wear a mask in the classroom and/or when social distancing is not possible, will not qualify for the Quarantine Release Program (QRP).
- When will the mask requirement be re-evaluated?
- West Ada School District will review the mask requirement prior to October 8 to determine whether the mask requirement can be lifted, and opt-outs restored, or if an extension in the mask requirement is necessary.
- What information will be used when re-evaluating the mask requirement?
- West Ada School District will evaluate conditions and look at data before the mask policy is set to expire as we make decisions for the remainder of the first semester. The determination to lift or extend the temporary mask requirement policy will be based on COVID-19 data from the school district and the local health care systems.
- How will this affect students involved in extracurricular activities?
- Student athletes, band members and all students involved in indoor and outdoor extracurricular activities, including coaches, should social distance as much as possible and are encouraged, but not required, to wear a face mask when actively engaging in physical activities.
The West Ada School District is committed to working with our families, students, and staff to keep schools open, while prioritizing the safety of our school communities. Your support and encouragement for our children during this challenging time as well as your compassion and respect for one another is greatly appreciated. We greatly appreciate the efforts of our staff and principals and ask that you respect the great lengths they’re going to in the classroom to do great things for all our students.