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Retired St. Luke's CEO frustrated with West Ada School Board after grandson gets COVID

"... At least during this surge have kids wear masks in schools,” Dr. David Pate said.

BOISE, Idaho — For nearly two years, medical professionals have been making desperate pleas to the public and school boards to take extra precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus and keep everyone safe. 

As the retired President and CEO of St. Lukes and a current member of Idaho Gov. Brad Little's coronavirus work group, Dr. David Pate has been one of those health care experts. 

Now, the coronavirus has hit home and one of his family members has been infected. Dr. Pate believes it happened while they were attending school in the West Ada School District, which does not require students to wear masks at this time.

Dr. Pate has four grandchildren. He said his grandsons hate shots, but when the COVID vaccines came out, they were willing to get their shots to protect their 3-year-old brother, who is not old enough to be vaccinated and has medical problems. 

He told KTVB, his youngest grandson and his son-in-law are now staying at a hotel, after his oldest grandson, who is 8 years old, tested positive for COVID. 

“Our job is to protect him, and I initially thought, I failed,” Pate said. “He has tried to do the right things and yet he got infected at school.” 

He adds, his oldest grandson then passed the virus to one of his other brothers, and Dr. Pate is frustrated by what he calls a lack of action by the West Ada School District to protect children.

“West Ada has forced his parents to make the decision 'do you want your child at school and at risk or do you want your child at home and at risk of learning loss?” Pate said. 

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While Dr. Pate does not want to see children wear masks in schools forever, he believes the school district should require them right now. Especially since he is watching folks take fewer precautions today, with the highly contagious omicron variant, then they did before with less transmissible variants. 

“Especially when kids are returning from holidays, travel visiting with family and now Idaho is experiencing a surge," Pate said. "In fact, the U.S. is having record cases, record hospitalizations… at least during this surge have kids wear masks in schools."

Now as Pate waits for his grandsons to fully recover and hopes his youngest does not contract the virus, he continues to urge the school board to take extra precautions to help protect any other students from getting COVID. 

“This is not what the medical professionals had advised West Ada, it is not what the CDC is advising or the local public health districts," Pate said. "They are doing this contrary to medical and public health advice." 

KTVB reached out to the West Ada School District to see if they had a comment about this, but as of Wednesday evening had yet to hear back.

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