MCPS board members discuss COVID-19 mask-wearing mandate

Posted at 9:02 AM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 11:02:52-04

MISSOULA — Missoula County health officials will soon consider lifting the mask mandate as more members of the community are vaccinated, and fewer test positive for COVID-19.

Missoula County Public School (MCPS) board members met on Tuesday evening and discussed what that would mean for the school district.

In order for the Missoula County Board of Health to lift the mandate, 60% of the county population eligible for vaccines need to have at least one dose by May 11 and the incident rate per 100,000 people would have to stay below 25.

There are only about six weeks of school left which has some board members are asking why change the rules now when kids have adapted to mask-wearing. However, there are concerns about the limitations instructors have when their faces are covered.

Ultimately, MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson says a handful of factors would make it challenging to completely end the mandate at this point.

"We are still seeing positive cases in the range of five to 10 positive cases each week and so then the COVID-19 virus is still active in some of our school communities," Watson said. "So, there are several reasons why, you know, at this point, the administration would not recommend a change in our face-covering policy."

The Missoula County Board of Health could update the rules on face coverings as early as May 11.

The Missoula City-County Health Department announced earlier this week that 45% of the eligible population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Montana COVID-19 tracking website shows that 100,518 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered and 45,518 Missoula County residents are fully immunized.