BUTTE — Wearing masks and facing coverings will be required at all of Butte’s public schools when classes begin on Aug. 30.
The Butte School District’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a policy that all students, staff, and visitors to Butte’s public schools wear masks for the first four weeks of school.
“It’s a policy that’s been done in coordination with Butte doctors, state doctors, and the Butte-Silver Bow Health Board, so it covers all areas,” said School Board Chairman Ann Boston.
The decision was made at a public meeting held at West Elementary School’s cafeteria. A few people spoke in favor of the new policy.
“You have a plan A, it is a good plan A, it is good for our students and our kids,” said Butte resident Glen Southergill.
Many more spoke against it.
“My child does not consent to be forced to wearing a mask, I do not consent to my child wearing a mask. My child has the God-given right to breathe freely,” said Butte resident Shealynn Glenn.
There were a few students there who spoke out against the mask policy.
“They want to look compassionate, 'Here we are with our mask on, we’re helping other people,' but it’s not actually helping. It’s doing more harm than good, I think,” said Butte High junior Iris Brown.
Some of the local teachers at the meeting applauded the Board’s decision.
“I think it’s not an easy decision, but, I think, it’s a decision that needs to be made. The reality is our students under 12 don’t have any protections right now,” said Butte educator Krystin Mengon-Lee.
The board will review the policy each month and could change the mask-wearing policy depending on the status of the virus in the community.
Missoula County Public Schools also recently decided that face coverings would need to be worn to begin the school year. Helena Public Schools is requiring face masks for some students while Kalispell Public Schools has decided against requiring face coverings.