Breaking News Update at 1:25 PM Thursday:

We do have breaking news on this Thursday afternoon: masks will not be mandated in the Billings schools.

KTVQ-TV was first to report the news:

Just one day after the Billings Education Association delivered a big “no” to a mask mandate for teachers and other staff, School District 2 Superintendent Greg Upham said Thursday, masks will also be optional for all students, as classes resume Monday.

Looks like I gotta say it: Hats off to the union for standing up and doing the right thing.

INITIAL POST

They don't have the will of the people. That is the bottom line when it comes to a mask mandate in Billings public schools. If a parent wants to mask their kids, go for it. We won't judge you. But don't force these masks on our kids. Stop dividing our community.

That is the message being sent overwhelmingly by parents in Billings. And yet, the liberal-dominated school board is still trying to pressure School District 2 into forcing masks on kids.

I spoke with Greg Upham, the School District 2 Superintendent, earlier this week. Clearly, you could tell that he is being pressured by the school board to try and force a mask mandate despite the overwhelming opposition of parents.

Here's part of our conversation:

Aaron Flint: This is my reaction. And obviously, you know, I'm an Afghan veteran so I take this pretty seriously myself, but I think our listeners do too. Very clearly last night the parents of school district 2 came out loud and clear and said, we do not want to be forced to force these masks on our kids. We want people to have the option. If there's people out there who think these things work, and they want to force these masks on their kids, you are free to do so--we support optional mask wearing. But I think it's safe to say from talking to folks around town and in hearing the public comment last night, the parents of school district 2 have absolutely had it. You know, we see people falling off of airplanes to get to freedom in Afghanistan right now. And yet here in our own country we see our freedoms being taken away.

Supt. Greg Upham: Well, you know, what you don't see too is the amount of emails in support of masking and you know, I don't have a poll Aaron, if it's 50/50 or 60/40, but it's extremely divisive. And I fully agree with you. And mandates require compliance and they require enforcement. And that's a concern of mine. It absolutely is. Where we are this year compared to where we were last year is different. It's very different. And so I'm having those conversations too, you know, mandates require compliance and then enforcement and we surely don't want to divide our parents, our students or community even more, which makes this decision even more difficult, but I can assure you that there's another portion that may not have been at the mic last night but surely is on the emails and those kinds of things as concerned. And you know, gosh, parents are concerned about their children, we're all concerned about it. So we're doing our damn best to make a decision that you know, allows us to move forward to stay in school like we did last year for sure.

Here is our full conversation from Tuesday morning, following the Monday night school board meeting:

As of Wednesday afternoon, we are still not aware of a final decision regarding optional mask-wearing. It is important to note; though, that Montana State University is not mandating masks on campus.

 

Words and Phrases That Prove Montanans Have an Accent