KALISPELL — The Kalispell School District will begin the new school year in phase three of their COVID-19 pandemic operational guidelines, meaning face coverings are not required for students and staff.
The Kalispell School Board unanimously approved the decision during their board meeting earlier this week.
Kalispell School District Superintendent Micah Hill said the district strongly encourages all who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated.
Hill said staff vaccination rates for the school district currently sit at 70% while student vaccination rates between ages 12 and 18 is unknown.
Hill said increased sanitation and social distancing methods put in place last year will remain in place this school year.
He added face coverings are still required for students while riding school buses under federal law. Hill also said the district strongly recommends the use of face coverings in the classroom.
“Face coverings are at the discretion of the individual based on their personal circumstances, we strongly recommend face coverings for people, especially those who or vulnerable and who haven’t been vaccinated, but again we’re going to leave it up to everybody’s personal circumstances and preference,” Hill told MTN News.
Under phase three, Hill said the district can still enact a face-covering requirement if an increase in COVID-19 cases is threatening school closures.