BUTTE — A major milestone has been reached after the Butte School Board unanimously voted to no longer require mask-wearing in schools after COVID-19 infection rates dropped dramatically.
“We’re confident that we can get through the rest of this school year and hopefully everyone can stay safe,” said Diane Regan of the Butte Health Department.
The Health Department reports that Butte was getting as many as 160 new cases a day of the omicron variant a few weeks ago, but now only get about 10 a day.
“Things are looking good right now and we’re very excited, we’ll be decreasing our contact tracing staff at this point anticipating we won’t be needing them in the future, hopefully, knock on wood, cross your fingers, all that stuff,” said Regan.
On the first day of class where masks were optional, many students said they were feeling optimistic about the new policy.
“Well, personally, I think it means that the COVID is going away and it’s not as big of a threat, which is really, really good for society. It means that we’ve been doing our part,” said Butte High freshman Collette Vines.
Freshman Nathan Hiebert also likes the policy change, “I agree with that, I think people should be able to wear a mask if they want to or don’t wear it with, they don’t want to at this point.”
During a career fair in the Butte High School gymnasium, some students wore masks and others didn’t, and most of the students we talked to said they support having the option.
“I mean, it’s great because, you know, some of them might want to take it off because sometimes masks can be frustrating,” said freshman Johnny Chambers.
Butte Central Catholic Schools still requires students, staff, and guests to wear masks in its schools. Its school board will meet Monday to decide if that policy will change.