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Masks optional for vaccinated students, 'encouraged' for unvaccinated students in the Boise School District

Under the newly approved plan, face masks would be encouraged for unvaccinated students, staff and visitors. For vaccinated people, it'll be optional.

BOISE, Idaho — On Monday night, the Boise School District board voted to approve changes to the schools' plan of key COVID-19 pandemic mitigation strategies.

Under the plan, all unvaccinated students, staff and visitors are encouraged to wear face masks. For vaccinated students and staff, wearing face masks will be optional.

The plan would also reverse visitor protocols to pre-pandemic normals. Handwashing and sanitizing, disinfecting surfaces and physical distancing will be followed "to the greatest extent possible."

Field trips for students will now be considered on a case-by-case basis, under the new plan, according to the school district.

The Boise School Board voted unanimously to pass the changes.

Brian Walker, the area director who presented the plans on Monday, said the best place for parents to start to find out more is their school's principal.

He added that the Boise School District does not require employees' vaccination records, but based on voluntarily given data, about 80% of the district's staff have been vaccinated.

"I think if we have learned anything it's being flexible and knowing that there's many twists and turns throughout this journey and hopefully, there's fewer ahead and we keep going in the direction we are going but we need to be prepared for whatever comes our way so that's our hope is to be flexible as we move forward with this plan," Walker said.

The district said that no vaccination records will be required from students or families. However, if there is a positive COVID-19 case in a classroom where students have been exposed, the district said they are required to find out who has been vaccinated and who has not. 

Unvaccinated students who have been exposed to the virus will be sent home to quarantine for two weeks, while vaccinated students will be able to stay at school.

On July 9, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidelines and said vaccinated teachers and students no longer need to wear face masks while inside buildings.

In June, Idaho's largest school district dropped its face mask requirement for students. The West Ada Board of Trustees voted 5-0 to make face masks optional for the 2021-2022 school year.  Face masks were previously required in the 2021 spring semester.

The Middleton School District was one of the first Treasure Valley school districts to end face mask mandates. In a 4-1 vote, its school board voted to end the requirement back in April.

The Kuna and Caldwell school districts also voted to drop their face mask requirements.

Editor's Note: This is a developing story and this article will be updated when further information is made available. Check back for updates.

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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