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Kalispell School Board votes to keep mask mandate in place

Flathead High School Interior
Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 17:02:00-05

KALISPELL — The Kalispell Public School Board of Trustees voted to keep requiring masks for all students and staff while in school at a special meeting Wednesday night.

The board heard a presentation from superintendent Micah Hill recommending the existing mask mandate as well as masks recommendations from Public Health Officer Joe Russell.

Hill said 136 staff members district-wide have tested positive for COVID-19 this school year as well as 379 students.

The Board also received dozens of public comments from residents both in favor and opposing the mask mandate.

School board officials said they received 637 emails of public comment. 526 emails in favor of a mask mandate while 111 opposed the mandate.

The mask mandate was unanimously approved by board members.

"We are hopeful that once our district staff has had the opportunity to be vaccinated, we can revisit this issue. We look forward to making adjustments to the district mask policy when it feels safe to do so," Kalispell School Superintendent Micah Hill said in a statement.

"We appreciate those that took the time to express their perspectives regarding this policy. The passion for kids in our community is evident and we are grateful for this. Despite the varying views on this sensitive issue I believe we can find common ground: what we are all going through right now is incredibly hard, we all care deeply about our kids and we all agree that having our children in school is a priority," the statement continued.

Last night KPS Board of Trustees voted unanimously in support of maintaining the current face covering policy within our schools. We are hopeful that once our district staff has had the opportunity to be vaccinated, we can revisit this issue. We look forward to making adjustments to the district mask policy when it feels safe to do so.

"We appreciate those that took the time to express their perspectives regarding this policy. The passion for kids in our community is evident and we are grateful for this. Despite the varying views on this sensitive issue I believe we can find common ground: what we are all going through right now is incredibly hard, we all care deeply about our kids and we all agree that having our children in school is a priority.

We are truly grateful for the continued support of KPS.
- Kalispell Superintendent of Schools Micah Hill

The Bigfork, Plains and Thompson Falls school districts are among those that recently removed mandatory mask mandates.