HELENA — Helena Public Schools said they have no plans at this time to change their current masking policy following a new emergency rule from the State of Montana about school mask mandates.
“Helena Public Schools has reviewed the emergency rule and the district reads the rule as permissive as it specifically provides that school districts “should consider” parental concerns and “should provide” an opt-out system for certain reasons. The district has taken into account all of those factors and implemented the least restrictive guidelines necessary to preserve the health and safety of our students and staff so that we can continue to keep our schools open five days per week,” wrote Superintendent Rex Weltz in a letter to parents.
The school district has required masks for all PreK-8 students and staff since the beginning of the school year. Masks are highly recommended, but not mandatory, for grades 9-12.
Lewis and Clark Public Health (LCPH) supported Helena Public Schools' decision to require masking at this time.
“Masking not only helps to ensure the safety of our children, but also protects individuals who are immunocompromised and unvaccinated by slowing the spread of COVID-19,” LCPH said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)currently recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status due to the high level of spread of the delta variant across the country.The CDC’s reasoning is due to the congregate setting schools provide, it is easier for the virus to spread ultimately putting more homes at risk for direct exposure.