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Helena schools to make outdoor masking optional
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Helena schools to make outdoor masking optional

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Helena Middle School students gather with their advisers

Masked Helena Middle School students gather with their advisers on the football field before starting the school day in August. 

Helena Public Schools is making outdoor masking optional at its more than a dozen facilities.

At Tuesday's Board of Trustees meeting, Superintendent Tyler Ream announced his intention to make outdoor masking optional, but requested a few days to speak with principals and teachers about the change. On Friday, the district sent out a letter to parents reaffirming this intent.

"While exceptions including vigorous exercise were previously included, this revision will allow our students and employees the option of removing their mask outdoors including outdoor classes, breaks and recesses," reads the letter.

The letter goes on to say that the change is not immediate, because all schools and grade levels are different in terms of student ages, school schedules and facilities. However, Ream said the latest the policy should be implemented at all schools is Monday, April 19.

Ream previously said most COVID-19 guidance for schools does not require outdoor masking, which played into the decision. The district also received strong requests from some parents, who cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that does not require masking when outdoors.

The letter states that if conditions or guidance change in relation to masking outdoors in the coming months, the school will change its practices.

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