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KPS may change mask policy for students

by HILARY MATHESON
Daily Inter Lake | August 10, 2020 1:00 AM

With more than two weeks before school starts, Kalispell Public Schools is proposing a change to its mask policy by requiring middle and high school students to wear them at school when unable to maintain six feet of distance from others.

At the elementary level, wearing masks will be “strongly recommended,” at school when physical distancing cannot be maintained under the update.

Currently, the policy requires only staff to wear masks when physical distancing isn’t possible. For students, however, masks are “strongly encouraged, and may be required,” in the current policy.

Kalispell Public Schools board of trustees is expected to take action on the proposed change during a meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Flathead High School flex room.

The change is based on the district’s current understanding of COVID-19 after meeting with local medical professionals in addition to guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics guidance according to Kalispell Public School District Superintendent Micah Hill.

If the proposed change is approved, the district plans to provide masks to students and staff that do not have one.

The district is set to open in phase 2 of a framework outlining how schools will operate while open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Trustees will also discuss “metrics to determine movements between phases.”

Also on the agenda is adoption of a proposed $36.5 million high school district budget and $34 million elementary district budget for the 2020-21 school year.

The district will also present results from testing drinking water for lead in Rankin Elementary. The district presented results for Hedges Elementary in July, and, as a result, is replacing 36 water fixtures with elevated lead levels. Montana schools are required to test drinking water for lead under a state rule that went into effect in January.

For more information visit www.sd5.k12.mt.us.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.