MISSOULA — Many schools across the Missoula area are doing away with mask mandates including the two largest independent districts in the county.
The decision comes in light of new US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and data, which show Missoula is not an area of high COVID-19 transmission.
Missoula County Public Schools announced on Feb. 25 that they would no longer be requiring students and staff to wear masks. The University of Montana also shared they will drop mask mandates, effective March 3.
Other schools have followed suit. For example, the Lolo School District made masks optional starting on Monday.
"With the new CDC change in stance, and Missoula County having a new designation, our neighbors around us seeing the light as well -- we thought it was appropriate to make masks optional effective today. And so far so good,” said Lolo School Superintendent Dale Olinger.
Meanwhile, Hellgate Elementary School Superintendent Doug Reisig wrote to parents saying, in part, “...the school district was notified that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had lifted the mandate that facial coverings be worn by all students when traveling on school buses.”
Reisig continued, “as such, wearing facial coverings on school buses will be highly recommended but not required beginning this morning, February 28th.”
All of the school districts that have dropped mandates say they will monitor the situation and reinstate mandates IF needed. But for now, they are happy to see some smiling faces.