NAMPA, Idaho — Schools across Idaho have tough decisions to make over the next few weeks.
Also on Tuesday, KTVB reported on Nampa Christian Schools' plan to return in less than two weeks with in-person classes. They have a recommendation for middle and high school students to wear masks but no mandate.
One family says they tried to convince the Nampa Christian schools to require masks, based on scientific evidence that they reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
“The decision wasn’t going to leave our children and our family in the safest environment,” said former Nampa Christian Schools parent Sean Nixon.
When Nixon’s family learned that Nampa Christian Schools were set to return to in-person learning, he knew his family would have to make tough decisions.
This past the spring, Nampa Christian Schools made the choice to return to school with new COVID-19 guidelines. Nixon says in practice, specifically with masks and social distance, it wasn’t what he had hoped for.
“What we witnessed was none of that going on. Our kids would come home and say that they were the only one’s in school wearing masks, or a few kids and few teachers,” said Nixon.
Nixon reached out to administrators to voice his concern.
“It was three weeks they would do the best they could, and that they would come up with a plan for the fall,” said Nixon.
Fast forward through the summer, Nixon says the COVID plan Nampa Christian Schools sent to parents was virtually the same as the plan that ended the school year in the spring.
A big issue for Nixon, Masks would not be mandated in school, only recommended. As a person who works in the healthcare field, Nixon wanted to explain to the school board why masks were so important, so he tried to bring information to them hoping to change their mind.
That included sending administrators videos of local leaders from St. Alphonsus and St. Luke’s presenting to other local schools.
Nixon says the response to him was a YouTube video from Michigan that supposedly debunked masks and explained health risks of wearing them.
“It resulted in a conversation saying if we couldn’t wholeheartedly stand behind the decision the school board made then we should possibly seek other possible education options for our children,” said Nixon.
Still, Nixon presented more scientific research that showed the effectiveness of masks.
“Just felt like every question we asked was pushed back with, that’s your opinion that’s not scientifically based and the boards made a decision,” said Nixon.
So Nixon and his family had to make their own decision.
“We made the very difficult decision to remove our kids after more than 12 years. There was a lot of tears in our house between my wife and my kids and myself in this loss. So, that’s where we stand,” said Nixon.
Nampa Christian Schools sent out more information in a 'Frequently Asked Questions' format that details their COVID-19 plan.
Nixon says even within that plan, he found problems.
“What’s interesting if you look in the FAQ, they state and have a hyperlink to Southwest District Health, The association for pediatrics, and the CDC. However, if you go to those websites and look at the recommendations, they are not following all the recommendations,” said Nixon.
In response to questions from KTVB about Nampa Christian Schools return to school plan, they sent a statement detailing, in part, the recommendation and encouragement of masks for middle and high school students, as well their plan to social distance in the classrooms, during lunch, as well as in the school's chapel.
The release also touches on the liability waiver parents are asked to sign, saying:
“NCS continues to partner with families for the education and discipleship of their child(ren). In support of that, parents are signing a partnership agreement to acknowledge their role in closely monitoring their child(ren)s health and a waiver similar to those used by other schools and the Idaho High School Activities Association.”
Nixon says for him, trying to get the school to change their policies was simply about keeping the community at school and beyond healthy.
“My worry is for the community, for those kids and families that are going to get sick. We know that many people get the virus and resolve it very easily, but we also know that people die very suddenly from it,” said Nixon.
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