Unmasked protestors cause Butte school board to reschedule meeting

BUTTE, Mont. - Monday's school board meeting at East Middle School in Butte lasted about 10 minutes before the board decided to adjourn because people in the audience refused to wear masks, in opposition of the school's masking policy.

In August, the Butte School District adopted a mandatory masking ordinance for all students, faculty and staff that was good through the first month of the school year. Monday's meeting was supposed to readdress this policy, but a number of unmasked protestors in the audience resulted in the board calling the meeting before it really even got started.

"All we're trying to do is keep our learning environment safe and healthy and keep our schools open," said school district superintendent Judy Jonart. "We all know it's so important for kids to be in school, and that's our goal."

Jonart mentioned how she meets with the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department regularly, and how the advice of medical professionals have guided the school's masking decisions.

"[The health department] has sent a recommendation that we continue with the masks because of the number of cases in Butte-Silver Bow," Jonart said. "We have recommendations from our own school nurses as well as other medical professionals in the community."

As a result of Monday's postponement, the board will get together again on Thursday at 5 p.m. virtually over Microsoft Teams. Like any board meeting, audience members are welcome to chime in, but those looking to speak at the meeting will need to contact administrative assistant Marci Sheehan beforehand.

Jonart says there is no word yet on whether these meetings will return to in-person eventually or stay virtual, but the school board will let the public know once it decides.

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