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

Missoula school board votes to extend mask mandate

Missoula County Public Schools mask policy.
Missoula County Public Schools
Missoula County Public Schools mask policy.

Missoula’s school board of trustees voted to maintain public school mask mandates, at least for now.

The board is also thinking about the metrics that will be used to eventually lift the rule.

Missoula County Public School Superintendent Rob Watson on Tuesday night recommended the board maintain the district’s existing mandatory face covering guidelines.

With COVID caseloads rising in schools and throughout Missoula County, Watson said now is not the time to relax the requirement.

“But, I think one of the big unknown questions — and it’s a legitimate question — is how long do we continue this? Where is the endpoint? Do we see a light at the end of the tunnel?” he says.

The district’s COVID-19 task force is developing a set of parameters to help the board determine when to lift the mask mandate. Proposals include thirty or fewer new COVID cases per week for three consecutive weeks and 175 or fewer close contact cases, also for three consecutive weeks.

Missoula school trustees voted 8 to 2 to extend the district’s mask mandate and to give the COVID task force another month to finalize those parameters.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.
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