During a meeting on Monday evening, the Bozeman School Board voted 7-1 to approve an emergency declaration that will require all staff, volunteers, visitors, and school-aged students within the Bozeman School District to wear face masks or face coverings.

Beginning August 24, face coverings will be required to be worn in all district buildings and indoor spaces for the start of the school year. The new policy is based on the number of active COVID-19 cases in Gallatin County. Gallatin County has a "high" rate of transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC recommends that all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status wear a face covering while indoors and that children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with preventative measures and strategies in place.

Governor Gianforte responded to the CDC guidance with the following statement in late July.

The CDC has repeatedly changed its mask recommendations over the last 16 months. Going forward, local school leaders should look at the data, which shows low transmission rates among kids, and listen to parents before considering mandating masks in our Montana classrooms. As cases involving the Delta variant grow nationwide, I encourage Montanans to talk with their doctor about getting a safe, effective vaccine.

Gianforte also sent a letter to Montana District Superintendents and Trustees saying that it's critical to get kids back into the classroom in as normal a setting as possible so they may learn, develop, and grow.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also recommended face masks for all K-12 schools.

During the Zoom meeting Monday night, the Bozeman School Board of Trustees listened to public comments from many Bozeman residents, some in support of the face mask requirement, and some against it. Some parents said that they would remove their children from school if the school board voted to approve the face mask requirement.

The new policy will require face coverings to be worn in all district buildings and indoor spaces within the Bozeman School District and will remain in effect until the Bozeman School Board votes to remove it.