MISSOULA — Missoula County Public Schools will lift their mask mandate following new CDC guidance released Friday.
MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson stated in a letter to parents and students Friday afternoon that according to the new guidance and data from the CDC, Missoula County is no longer considered an area of high transmission and masking indoors is not currently recommended in most situations.
Watson said MCPS will continue to base their practices and protocols on CDC guidance. As of Monday, February 28, masking in MCPS facilities will be optional. Those who wish to continue masking will be allowed to do so, but no student or staff will be required to wear a face-covering at this time.
But in keeping with current CDC recommendations and federal rules, masks will still be required on buses.
Below is the letter sent to the MCPS community:
Dear MCPS families,
We would like to share an important message regarding the newly released recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concerning COVID-19 mitigation strategies. The new CDC guidance was released at 1 P.M. on Friday, February 25.
The metrics our District used to determine when masking would be required in K-12 schools were based on prior CDC recommendations, transmission rates, population health, and community resources at a time when Delta was the predominant variant. Since that time, the Omicron variant became dominant and has proven to have very different effects, making the prior recommendations and metrics irrelevant.
According to the new guidance and data from the CDC, Missoula County is no longer considered an area of high transmission and masking indoors is not currently recommended in most situations. MCPS will continue to base our practices and protocols on CDC guidance; therefore, as of Monday, February 28, masking in MCPS facilities will be optional. Those who wish to continue masking will be allowed to do so, but no student or staff will be required to wear a face covering at this time.
In keeping with current CDC recommendations and federal rules, masks will still be required on buses.
A summary of the CDC’s guidance, rationale and information on risk levels by state and county can be found here [cdc.gov]. Please note that masking is still recommended for some individuals.
We will continue to monitor the data, as well as continue with other COVID mitigation strategies, such as routine cleaning and targeted disinfection, maintaining ventilation and air filtration systems, prioritizing hand hygiene, testing, and asking those with symptoms of illness to stay home.
MCPS will continue to offer COVID-19 testing and provide at-home tests as needed. Please call 406-240-4721 to request a test Monday through Friday. The Missoula City-County Health Department also has ample testing capability. Please call 406-258-INFO to schedule a test with the health department.
Because this pandemic continues to be a fluid situation, we will notify our school communities if the need to reinstate a masking requirement is indicated at some point in the future at either the District or building level. You can continue to track the most recent summary COVID data for MCPS here [docs.google.com].
Thank you for your continued cooperation with our COVID protocols.
MCPS COVID Response Team
Rob Watson, Superintendent
Vinny Giammona, COVID Recovery Director
Brooke Krininger, Health Services Supervisor
Tyler Christensen, Communications Coordinator