by Mayor Simison

Most Meridian students have begun the new school year, and first and foremost I say, welcome back! I am happy that kids are back in session learning. I recently attended the Owyhee High School ribbon-cutting where many community members and staff came together to celebrate student education and our thriving community. Owyhee High School was years in the making and driven by community support to fund the construction of this needed resource through bonds. 

As schools have started up, there has been much conversation about how to do so safely with the rising cases of COVID-19. I appreciate the time and energy West Ada School Board took to hear from their patrons to put in a system that tries to balance what they feel is in the best interests of the students, teachers, and the community. For some it isn’t perfect, but it does provide guidance on what they feel is the best way for them to get as many kids as possible into the buildings for the school year.

Their actions are similar to what we have seen from our health care providers, other school districts, businesses, and events — specifically to take appropriate actions so their operations can continue while working to protect their customers, residents, students, and employees as best as possible. I understand this individualized approach has created concerns and conflicting viewpoints, but I believe it enables decisions to be made that are focused on each entity’s unique circumstances and the services they provide to the community.

While decisions are being made on how best to manage COVID-19, last week Governor Little shared that our hospitals are beyond constrained due to COVID-19 and that the State’s hospitals are close to activating crisis standards of care. COVID-19 continues to show that this pandemic is affecting our entire community physically, socially and mentally, and each of us have to do our part to help our community through this. I remain optimistic that the Central District Health Department will be an active contributor to our regional needs related to the pandemic. However, I am concerned about the changing makeup to the Board.  While it was initially reported by the Idaho Statesman that I supported the appointment of Dr. Cole, I want the community to know that when I was asked to join other Mayors to support his appointment, I declined. During this time, it is important that we have people who can unify us in our needs and not divide us, and unfortunately, I didn’t feel that was the situation with Dr. Cole’s appointment. That being said, we will continue to engage with CDH and see what step they can take to help keep our region focused on addressing the impacts of COVID-19.

As we continue to navigate the impacts of COVID-19, it is important that we support one another through these difficult decision-making times. While people need to take personal responsibility in weighing their options and practicing the safety precautions, we all need to recognize and contemplate that our individual decisions are having implications on our health system and our community, not just on ourselves. For me, I chose to get vaccinated after conversations with health care professionals. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to have similar conversations and do what you can to help protect our hospitals, schools, and the community at large.

As we transition towards fall, I have greatly enjoyed the kick-off of school and all the extracurricular fun that is taking place. I want the excitement I felt at the football games over the last few weekends to continue. Hearing everyone cheer and have a good time together is creating memory-making moments. Let’s come together as a community and help the schools have a wonderful and safe school year.

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