Mask Mandate

Victor City Attorney Herb Heimerl penned a memorandum to the Mayor and City Council insisting that the Mayor’s recently issued Order requiring all individuals to wear a mask or face covering when indoors in a public setting, including schools, is lawful and that the school district must comply. Last week, Teton County School District 401 (“District”) Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme, Ed.S., informed Mayor Frohlich that the District was “not bound by the Mayor’s Order, nor by the City Ordinance requiring the wearing of masks indoor.”

“As the Victor City Attorney, I respectfully disagree with the assertion that the City of Victor does not have jurisdiction to impose a health or quarantine ordinance on a public school within the corporate limits of the City of Victor. While Teton School District 401 is a body corporate of the State of Idaho, no statute exists, and no provision of the State constitution suggests that a school is sovereign and therefore exempt from the rule of law vested in the City in which such school is located. In fact, Idaho Code 50-606 states, in part: “The mayor shall have such jurisdiction as may be vested in him by ordinance over all places within the corporate limits of the city, for the enforcement of any health or quarantine ordinance and regulation thereof…”. [emphasis added] The statute is clear, and there are no exceptions to the power it authorizes,” Heimerl wrote in his memorandum.

Due to rising rates of transmission of the Delta variant, especially in communities with low vaccination rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all schools require universal masking and use additional prevention strategies regardless of how many students, educators, and staff are currently vaccinated. Last Friday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that recently reopened schools that are already struggling with large-scale Covid outbreaks generally aren’t following federal guidelines that recommend students and staff wear masks indoor. “I want to strongly appeal to those districts who have not implemented prevention strategies and encourage them to do the right thing to protect the children under their care,” Walensky said.

While the Mayor’s Order requires individuals to wear a mask or face covering when indoors, the CDC requires passengers two (2) years of age and older, as well as the driver of a bus or van operated by public or private school systems, including early care and education/childcare programs, to wear a mask or face covering subject only to the exclusions and exemptions in CDC’s Order. “The Teton County School District in Wyoming is compliant with this Order and has been since its implementation. I believe Teton County School District 401 is also subject to this Order and should require children on public school buses and the drivers of those buses to wear a mask to be compliant with the CDC’s Order,” according to City Attorney Heimerl.

Mayor Frohlich’s Order went into effect at 12:01 am, Monday, August 30, 2021, and remains valid for 30-days unless extended or terminated earlier.

For more information, please contact Troy L. Butzlaff, Interim City Administrator, at 714- 745-5615.