Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Doing things right is rarely cheap

| September 26, 2021 1:00 AM

Time will tell how much the Coeur d’Alene School Board would have to pay for a mask mandate.

Hinting that one was on the way via a special meeting Friday afternoon, the board stepped back at the last minute because of security concerns; meeting canceled.

But what if?

By enacting a district-wide mask mandate across all 19 schools, the school board would have left the relatively safe quarters of no action for themselves, voting instead for safe quarters for students, employers, their families and the community as a whole.

Standing on the sidelines as COVID-19 numbers have been skyrocketing in North Idaho would no longer have been an option. We understand.

We quietly supported the no-mandate stance at the beginning of the school year because a) we hoped most people in schools would vaccinate and mask up on their own, b) maybe the forecasts of calamitous contagion would be wrong, and c) the anti-mask mobs were so vocal and so angry, the likelihood of a mandate backfiring seemed all too likely.

Well, a) most people in the schools are either not vaccinated, not masked or both, b) the calamitous contagion is every bit the menace health forecasters predicted, and c) to hell with the anti-mask mobs.

Time will tally the costs if the district does mandate masks soon. If so:

• Many parents will yank their kids out of school.

• School board meetings made uncomfortable in recent months by angry speakers might now breach the unbearable point.

• And very possibly, incumbents Lisa May and Rebecca Smith might sacrifice their candidacies to be re-elected Nov. 2. Already, board Chair Jen Brumley withdrew from her race, wanting to focus more on family, yes, but also because of the vitriol that makes these volunteer jobs hard to endure, let alone succeed in.

Another potential cost down the road? If the school board is taken over like North Idaho College’s board of trustees, CDA schools’ sparkling new superintendent, Shon Hocker, might have made a massive move to paradise for nothing.

Early assessments are that Hocker is the outstanding leader school board members thought he was when they hired him this summer, which could make him a target for the far-, far-right tomato tossers.

The costs could pile up fast and deep, but on the other side of the ledger, there’s this:

By implementing a mask mandate and taking concrete steps to try to protect the children and adults in the school district, one cost might not be human lives.

And that would make an exceedingly painful decision worth it.