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The debate over masks continues

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - For the past year and a half, masks have become part of our culture.

Yet the past 18 months have provided no universal opinions on the face coverings, forcing institutions to once again make rulings on their mask requirements.

"We really don't want to be here," Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad said. "This isn't what we want to do as a council. We don't want masks, because we don't really like them that much to start with, but we also recognize the importance of them, and we recognize that they work."

Mayor Blad and the Pocatello City Council will meet on Tuesday at 1 p.m. to decide whether it will put an ordinance in place for a city-wide mask mandate.

Previously, a mask mandate was held in place from November 21 through April 26.

"When Pocatello had the mask mandate before, we kept our numbers fairly low," Blad said. "We weren't great, but everywhere around us, they were spiking and they had numbers a lot higher than us. I believe that that's the testament that the masks did work."

Others aren’t so sure. August has brought about deja vu, another round of citizens and parents trying to plead to city councils and school boards about their own beliefs regarding masks.

Recently, the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees took action to recommend face coverings, but left the decision optional and up to the discretion of families.

Idaho State University has gone in the other direction. They are requiring masks for everyone indoors at all of their facilities. The policy will be reviewed every two weeks and could be removed if the situation improves.

The debate over masks will continue to be a divisive one, but officials urge civility despite the widespread disagreements. 

"If you do see somebody with a mask, leave them alone," Blad said. "Let them wear a mask. If you see somebody and you have a mask on and you see somebody that doesn't, let them be. Don’t attack. We see too many people throughout the country that have been attacked or been threatened, because they either wear a mask or they don't wear a mask."

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Cole Sams

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

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