Coeur d’Alene Public Schools moving forward with ‘strongly recommending’ masks on Wednesday

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho — When Coeur d’Alene students and staff head to class tomorrow morning, a mask is no longer a requirement.

Last night, the school board voted 3–2 to make them only ‘strongly recommended’.

Even though CDC guidelines and guidance from Panhandle Health strongly encourage masks to limit the spread of COVID in schools, the board made their decision based on how COVID is directly affecting Coeur d’Alene schools right now.

“I see the cases as pretty steady overall and I would still be in favor of moving to ‘strongly recommended,'” said board trustee Casey Morrisroe.

Just like the decision to move to five days of in-person learning.

“The numbers were low then, it was time to move and we did make that move,” said board chair Jennifer Brumley. “The numbers are low now. It is time, in my opinion, to make that move.”

The board was also worried about quarantine and if guidelines needed to be more strict now that the mask requirement was being lifted.

But they decided against that, too — with the board saying students would miss out on too much.

“I think we’re gonna risk students missing out on events in the next five weeks,” said board trustee Lisa May.

Especially high school seniors.

“Their AP [tests] that they have been working so hard for that are coming up, and prom,” said board trustee Tambra Pickford.

Even without a mask mandate, the school district says quarantine guidelines will not change, but they do acknowledge the risk.

“We may see more instances where a quarantine — a need for quarantine — is triggered because one or both members of the exposure are not wearing their masks,” said Coeur d’Alene Schools director of communications Scott Maben.

Board chair Jennifer Brumley believes it’s now or never to lift the mask requirement, but as the mother of a high school senior, she still pleaded for students and staff to wear them for each others’ safety.

“I strongly encourage our students to wear their masks, I strongly encourage our teachers to wear their masks,” she said.

And starting Wednesday, it will be a personal choice.

“Make good decisions knowing who you’re around and might be potentially exposing,” said Brumley. “But ultimately, I think everybody in our school buildings needs to be able to make that choice.”

Coeur d’Alene Public Schools says if there is an outbreak at a school, it does reserve the right to implement a temporary mask mandate at that school, or phase students back to remote learning or a hybrid schedule, until cases come back down.

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