MISSOULA – Missoula County Public School (MCPS) administrators say new state directive on ‘mask mandate’ will not change district policies as parents already have the opportunity to learn from a distance.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) released the “emergency decision” on Tuesday advising school districts to accommodate parents’ choice when it comes to students wearing masks this fall.
But in a statement posted to MTN News, MCPS says it interprets the rule as “permissive” by saying that school districts “should take into account” parents’ concerns and “should provide” an opt-out system for certain reasons.
MCPS notes that the district “has received hours of public commentary” in recent weeks, “demonstrating a clear desire to accommodate parents’ wishes” as administrators decided to demand masks. The district goes on to say that “the school district offers parents and students the option of opting out of wearing a mask. However, if they opt out, they choose to learn off campus or to learn virtually.”
The district says principals will help parents who wish to opt out of virtual learning and help with accommodation for students seeking medical exemption from wearing masks. Otherwise, MCPS “will continue to enforce its face covering guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of all students and staff.”
MCPS previously said it plans to review the face mask policy in six weeks as it develops more data on the spread of COVID-19 cases in schools.
“The school district offers parents and students the option of opting out of wearing a mask. However, if they opt out, they choose to learn off campus or learn virtually. The school district is ready to help parents who do. seek to exercise this option. “