GREAT FALLS — Great Falls Public Schools announced on Friday morning that beginning on Monday, September 27, it will require all students, staff, and visitors to Great Falls Public Schools to wear masks in school and at all school events.
GFPS said in a news release that it has been monitoring the COVID spread since the academic year began several weeks ago. This week, the Cascade City-County Health Department reported that the average cases per 100,000 in Cascade County had hit 100/100K.
In addition, the positivity rate remains at 12.7%. Both are indicators of a high community transmission rate. Based on the school district’s policy, when community transmission rates reach this point, they are implementing additional health and safety protocols, including mask requirements.
The mask requirement will remain in place until the transmission rates drop back into a safer phase (moderate level) and stays low for at least one full week.
In addition, GFPS will be limiting access to school facilities by outside groups for the next few weeks as well; the limitations will be in effect until the transmission rates drop into the moderate range for a week or more.
Student athletic activities will continue this week as scheduled. However, there will be health and safety protocols which include a mask requirement when students and coaches are in close proximity. Spectators are asked to wear masks at all athletic events at this time as well.
Heather Hoyer, assistant superintendent of secondary schools, told MTN, "The last thing we ever want to do is shut our schools."
Hoyer said students are not optimized when they do that, and it puts a lot of stress and strain on teachers to try to meet student needs when they can’t build relationships with the kids.