With the news of the Governor lifting the mask mandate on Friday with Senate Bill 65, I thought I would share information on it.
Currently, the SB 65 does not include immunity protection to public schools.
Therefore, MTSBA and OPI are trying to work with the Governor to include school board officials to that Senate Bill in order to allow for individual school districts to make the decision to require masks or not.
Lance, one of the lawyers that Melstone School receives information from, has sent the following information to the Senior Advisors to the Governor on behalf of all MT public schools:
Mike and Glenn,
We are fielding lots of calls and contacts from members wondering about their options for continuing local mask directives once Governor Gianforte dissolves the statewide directive as expected tomorrow. Is there any possibility that the Governor would consider adding elected school boards among those with the authority to impose mask mandates? We have members with perspectives spanning the full continuum on this issue and we are hoping they will be granted continued authority in determining whether and how to implement mask requirements. I am confident that elected trustees will exercise that authority carefully and with the input of affected constituents and staff.
It should also be noted that Senate Bill 65 provides immunity protection only to private entities and not to public schools. Having the option of requiring continued use of masks would provide school boards with a tool they may need to protect the district taxpayers from liability that could arise from the spread of COVID-19 within Montana's public schools.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Therefore, as of now, we are still required to have our current mask policy, but as soon as public schools are included in the liability shield with some more clarification from the Governor, Melstone Schools will more than likely have a Board meeting to discuss.
Thank you and as always, please feel free to call Mrs. Armour at 406-358-2313 with any questions!