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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

State Superintendent ‘Strongly Recommends’ Ditching School Mask Mandates Next Year

School hallway showing students walking through in a blur.

Montana’s superintendent of public instruction “strongly recommends” school districts rescind any mask requirements for the upcoming school year, starting this fall. The recommendation came after federal guidance suggested sticking with face coverings for now.

Superintendent Elsie Arntzen appeared on ABC Fox’s Wake Up Montana Wednesday morning, calling for local school officials to review masking and other COVID-19 related policies.

“Let’s look at their faces, let’s understand who they are, and let’s unmask our children,” she said.

The decision remains up to each district, according to Arntzen.

On Wednesday, the superintendent issued a letter to school districts recommending that they remove the requirements for the 2021-22 school year to align with local and federal health guidelines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced inoculated people can ditch their masks. On Saturday, the agency suggested keeping COVID-19 prevention strategies such as face coverings in place for K-12 schools for at least the remainder of the current school year. 

The CDC also noted it will update school guidance for the 2021-22 school year in coming weeks.

According to the most recent data from Montana’s health department, over 2,200 staff at K-12 schools contracted the virus since the start of the pandemic. More than 6,200 students were infected with the virus during that same period.

Freddy Monares was a reporter and Morning Edition host at Montana Public Radio.
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