The Gianforte administration’s health department issued an emergency rule Tuesday saying school districts should give students and parents the opportunity to opt-out of complying with a face-mask mandate meant to protect from the spread of COVID-19.
But school and education officials said districts in Montana already are weighing the concerns of parents, students and staff who object to wearing masks, and offering them options.
“Montana students deserve to be back in their classroom in as normal and safe an environment as possible. Montana parents deserve to know their voices are heard in schools when health-related mandates for their children are being considered. They also deserve to know that schools are reviewing reliable data and scientific research about the impacts of mask mandates on students,” Gov. Greg Gianforte said in a statement.
The emergency rule says schools should give parents the ability to opt-out of health-related mandates, including wearing a mask or face covering, for reasons including: physical health; mental health; emotional health; psychosocial health; developmental needs; or religious belief, moral conviction, or other fundamental right the impairment of which could negatively impact the physical, mental, emotional, or psychosocial health of students.