On Thursday, the Health Department announced its latest mandate, requiring individuals 12 years of age and older to wear masks inside public places.
For Superintendent of Missoula Public Schools Rob Watson, the decision to require face masks is critical as they map out their plans for returning to in-person instruction.
One question that came up concerning the new mandate is how the age requirements will be handled. in circumstances where a classroom will have students that 11 and 12-years-old.
The mandate was not created with specific policies for specific schools, rather as long as they comply with the rule individual schools have the flexibility within their own policies to determine how they carry out the mandate.
Overall Watson is confident they can develop policies for those younger student in order to make mass requirements effective.
"As we read guidance on school reopening, one of the big things that we're seeing is that it will be very difficult to socially distance in schools. We know that we have a finite amount of space. And we know it's going to be difficult to socially distance so when we can't socially distance masks are even more important," said Watson.
The MCPS Return to School Committee is currently working on scenarios for returning to in-person instruction. According to their website, they plan to share their final recommendation with the community no later than late July.