Helena Public Schools to Lift Mask Requirement Jan. 4 | Education

As of January 4, Helena public schools will no longer require the wearing of face masks in elementary and middle school buildings.

In an email to families on Friday, school district superintendent Rex Weltz said he decided to lift the requirement that had been in effect since August due to the drop in COVID-19 cases in schools and the availability of vaccines for children 5 years and older. The number of cases has dropped from 19 or more cases per day in mid-October to five or fewer this week, he said.

“Given our current circumstances, I have made the decision to switch to optional mask status for all grade levels on the day we return from winter break,” he said.

The school district currently does not have a mask requirement in place in its high schools.

Weltz said all other COVID-19 precautions will remain in place, including distance where possible, emphasis on cleaning, use of outdoor space when possible, introduction of fresh outdoor air in learning spaces, the use of portable air filters and regular cleaning and maintenance of air handling systems.

He said he would strongly consider reinstating a mask requirement in the event of a local spike or surge in cases.

“As we continue to adapt to the ever-changing COVID landscape, each of us has different levels of comfort,” he said. “Schools will respect individual and family decisions to hide or not to hide and will foster an environment of respect among students and staff.”

Weltz also announced that parents, guests and volunteers will be allowed to return to school buildings from January 24.

“Parent involvement is an important part of a healthy school environment and I know our parents and volunteers are more than ready to set foot in our buildings,” he said.

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