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PCSD25 recommends masks but leaves the decision optional

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - UPDATE: At Tuesday’s Regular Board meeting, the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees took action to prioritize in-person learning, five days a week for the 2021-2022 school year.

The Board also took action to recommend masks/face coverings but left the decision optional and up to the discretion of families.

The meeting agenda was amended late Tuesday afternoon after new information was provided to PCSD 25 administration. On August 16, the Southeastern Idaho Public Board of Health officially retired the SIPH COVID-19 Regional Response Plan, which provides the criteria for PCSD 25’s Roadmap to the 2021-2022 school year.

According to SIPH, “this decision was made to minimize confusion surrounding varying risk levels. In place of the Regional Response plan, the Board of Health will be relying on CDC risk levels and recommendations/guidance for the foreseeable future.”

As a result of this new development, which inadvertently invalidates the data points in the current Roadmap, PCSD 25 administration will make the necessary modifications for Board adoption at a later date.

To summarize:
• Face coverings/masks are recommended but optional for learners, staff and visitors at all PCSD 25 schools and facilities.
• PCSD 25 will prioritize face-to-face learning, in-person, five days a week.
• At a future date, PCSD 25 administration will modify the remaining sections of the Roadmap, again seek feedback from the community, and return to the Board for a decision.

“As an administration, we recognize that the Board of Trustees has been placed in a very difficult position without clear direction from other state agencies and we fully support tonight’s Board decision,” Dr. Howell said. “We also recognize that to remain in school and to maintain all of our activities, we will need the cooperation of our staff, parents and patrons as we all continue to navigate the conditions that we continue to encounter with COVID-19.”


ORIGINAL: School districts across the area are deciding on whether to require masks in classrooms. 

Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25 is expected to make a decision Tuesday on whether to implement a mask mandate for this semester. 

Marsh Valley School District 21 and American Falls School District 381 have both decided they will recommend but not require masks this upcoming school year. 

Southeastern Idaho Public Health Director Maggie Mann says she is in favor of masks in all of our public schools.

"Whatever school districts decide to do, we will be supportive of them, and we will work with them," she said. "And again what it really comes down to is we know what works, and we just need people to make that choice. It’s a pretty small thing to do to help protect the people around us and our communities."

And even if masks will not be required going forward in District 25, Mann says students should never feel discouraged to wear a mask. 

"Kids shouldn't be looked down on, or treated differently for making that choice to wear a mask, because really when they do that, they're making a choice, not only to protect themselves, but also the people around them," she said.

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Cole Sams

Cole is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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