HELENA — Montana’s head of public instruction wrote a letter to school superintendents on Wednesday strongly recommending that districts end their mask mandates and make the wearing of face coverings a personal choice starting in the fall.
State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen’s letter also offers support to schools that decide to lift mask mandates for the remainder of the school year and for summer programs, NBC Montana reported.
“We cannot enter another school year subjecting our students to any additional loss of instruction time,” Arntzen wrote. “We also cannot perpetuate the notion that masks will be a permanent feature in or state’s classrooms.”
In February, Gov. Greg Gianforte issued an executive order urging schools to make reasonable efforts to follow guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Montana Office of Public Instruction, Arntzen noted in her letter.
The CDC still recommends wearing face coverings in schools.
COVID-19 vaccinations have been approved for children 12 and over, meaning most students in kindergarten through fifth grade are not currently eligible to be vaccinated.
Missoula County Public Schools has decided to require masks through the end of the current school year, while districts in Bozeman, Helena and East Helena are still considering the issue.
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