Doctors concerned over lack of mask mandate in Coeur d’Alene School District

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Amid all of the rising COVID-19 cases, kids are headed back to the classroom next week in North Idaho, but concerns are high.

School is back in session next Tuesday for the Coeur d’Alene School District, and while it is strongly recommending students wear masks, there is no mandate in place.

“I am worried. To be completely blunt,” said pediatrician Dr. Vanessa Carroll.

Kootenai Health is struggling with a surge in COVID cases, opening buildings, and developing spaces to care for the surge in patients they’ve been treating over the past few months. Despite that though, kids in the community are heading back to school next week with no requirement to mask up.

“The physical issues, the emotional issues, they’ve had the academic interruptions, they’re falling behind,” she said. It’s crucial kids get back in the classroom, but she hopes it’s done safely.

“Delta is impacting children in ways not previously seen,” Carroll said.

We’ve had the advantage of seeing what works in other places across the country as they’ve headed back to the classroom, and the literature is clear: mask up, social distance, wash your hands. Everything you’ve heard, but regardless, the school district is doing things their own way.

“We’re going to watch this very carefully. Day by day as we proceed through the fall and just kind of see how we’re doing,” said Scott Maben, Director of Communication with the Coeur d’Alene School District. They strongly recommend using masks and common sense.

“I really hope people would take this moment and realize, just trust us when we say, especially as a pediatrician, I am an advocate for children,” Carroll said. “I speak for those who can not speak for themselves. I really want to encourage people to just take a pause and trust us.”

She’s clear: they don’t have a pediatric intensive care unit though and she’s concerned this could overwhelm the region.

Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy within North Idaho is one school that does have a mask mandate in place.

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