MISSOULA — The Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) mask mandate will remain in effect due to the county's climbing COVID-19 case count.
Tuesday evening's decision comes after masks were required indoors for the first six weeks of school. Administration, along with the MCPS COVID Task Force feel it's necessary to keep face coverings in place for K-12 due to the most up-to-date COVID numbers.
It was noted at the meeting that there has been an increased incidence rate throughout Missoula County, along with a significant increase in positive cases within MCPS which has seen a 29% increase in close contacts as compared to last fall.
In short, local and district data — along with national guidance — all point to mask-wearing as a key way to keep our schools up and running as the pandemic surges.
Unlike the district’s initial mask guidance, this time around, the mandate comes with parameters. An initial look at what those benchmarks could require was presented to the MCPS Board of Trustees includes several items.
The COVID task force will consider a modification to the mask mandate when the majority of the following conditions are met:
- COVID vaccine is widely available and time has been given to reach immunity for 5 to 11-year olds.
- The incident rate is less than or equal to 20 for three consecutive weeks.
- MCPS records less than or equal to 30 total cases per week for three consecutive weeks.
- The number of close contacts within MCPS is less than or equal to 175 for three consecutive weeks.
The COVID task force will review these metrics and have a finalized outline no later than the board’s November meeting.
Additional information on MCPS COVID-19 guidelines can be found here.