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Masks optional for Boise School District students, staff

July 13, 2021 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Students and staff in the Boise School District in southwestern Idaho won’t have to wear masks during the upcoming school year.

The district’s Board of Trustees on Monday unanimously approved a COVID-19 response plan created with help from parents, teachers and health professionals. The district last school year required masks for students and staff when inside.

The new plan encourages those who are not vaccinated to continue wearing masks to protect themselves and the community. It also calls for focusing on hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces and protocols for when people get sick.

The district also plans to continue updating ventilation systems and training on safety practices, the Idaho Statesman reports.

Brian Walker, an area director for the district, said the plan aligns with recently released guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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“When you’re requiring it, we’re making that decision for our public,” Walker said. “When we change to language of recommended, encouraged, optional, we’re putting that back in the hands of the family and it’s on families to interpret that.”

Vaccines are only approved for children 12 and older, causing concern for children younger than that to be in school. Walker said children will still be able to attend online, and can work with school officials to find the best plan for them.

He said most of the district’s staff are vaccinated against COVID-19, but the district isn’t requiring proof.