This is a developing story. Check the Teton Valley News 9/22 issue for updates.
In a letter to Victor Elementary School parents on Thursday, Principal Megan Christiansen announced that starting next Monday, Sept. 20, masks will be required in the school.
"If we do not do this the cycle will continued, families will suffer, people will continue to get sick and our integrity and hard work will be diminished," she wrote about the decision, which runs counter to the district-wide eschewal of a mandate.
The letter came at the end of a challenging week on the south end that impacted many families and staff members; on Tuesday night the superintendent and principal announced that the school would close for the rest of the week due to mass quarantines and other absences among students and staff.
On Wednesday and Thursday, faculty members and volunteers swarmed the building to help perform a deep clean in anticipation of reopening, and Christiansen worked on implementing new policies to counteract further outbreaks, such as class pods, outdoor learning spaces, and improved communication.
The district's reopening plan, approved by the school board in June, emphasizes decision-making on a school by school basis, which gave the VES principal the grounds to require masks in her school.
"I realize our admin team has decided on district-wide mask choice, but choice does not work in a K-3 building with our most vulnerable children and staff," Christiansen wrote. "We need our kids to be in school, and this last week has been evidence enough for us to know we are failing."
Earlier on Thursday, the entire state was declared under a hospital resource crisis, meaning health care can be rationed with a focus on saving those with the best chance to live.
A previous version of this article stated that volunteers assisted on Wednesday. Only faculty members worked in the school on Wednesday.