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Hamilton Schools adjust mask policy to include youngest students

Posted at 5:34 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 09:27:41-04

HAMILTON — Hamilton School leaders are continuing to adjust their district guidelines for re-opening school in a month, now deciding that all students should be wearing masks in class.

The district announced last week it would be requiring masks for older students inside classrooms, along with other measures like social distancing. But on Tuesday night, the board decided to include all students, from pre-school through high school, based on the latest national, state, and local guidelines.

"Here's the deal," said Hamilton schools spokeswoman Justine Stewart. "It's a hard decision to make. And our main goal is to stay open for as long as we can. And with the latest recommendations from the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Ravalli County Health Department and other organizations, it's become essential, and we realize we need to have this mask policy."

The district will also continue with other precautions, like social distancing configurations, and an aggressive sanitizing program. But Stewart says everyone pulling together is also a valuable tool.

"But we are asking for cooperation," said Stewart. "Because I think the school district, and all of our families, we want our kids in school. I mean that's why most teachers, I'd say all teachers, they got into teaching because they want to be with kids. We don't want to teach them remotely if we don't have to, but we're in a situation we can't help."

"And so, we're going to ask parents to send their kids with masks. If they don't have masks we will have masks for those children," Stewart continued. "We have enough masks right now to give every kid a mask every day if need it. But, to kind of stretch those supplies out, we are going to ask parents, if they can, to send their kids with reusable masks."

While Hamilton is making that change to require masks for younger students, no changes like that yet in Corvallis. They're still developing all the details of their plan but, say for right now, only students in the upper grades of 5-12 will be required to wear masks.

Stevensville has also released its planned reopening plan with school board trustees opting to recommend, but not require, the wearing of masks.