Days before the Butte School District came to the heavily contested decision to require facemasks at Butte’s public schools, Butte’s Catholic School system had already come to that decision and without much controversy. It was a decision they believe was the right one.
“We’ve been working in partnership with the health department to really come up with a solid, evidence-based game plan on how to protect teachers, protect our students student, our community,” said Butte Central Principal J.P. Williams.
The school will require masks for students, staff and visitors inside the buildings for the first few weeks, before it reviews the policy. Vaccinations won’t be required, but they are encouraged.
The principal knows firsthand about Covid-19 after contracting it last year: “It was a fight and thank gosh I’m a fighter,” said Williams.
Williams said his staff is prepared for this year and any new challenges: “It’s not a mystery to us anymore. Last year was like, ‘Okay, we’re coming into Covid. What do we do? How does this work?’ We have an idea now. We have lots of evidence, lots of data."
Butte Central Elementary has new leadership this year and new ideas to improve the education experience for its young students.
“We’re focused on trying to bring K through 12 together more as a whole school, as opposed to the high school and the elementary, we’re sharing some staff,” said Butte Elementary Principal Dawn Ann Peterson.
The schools will be adding additional classes, as well as new teachers.
“I’m really excited to teach the kids, because they hadn’t had music during the past years and Covid so I think they're really hungry from some musical intelligence and working together to make music,” said Butte Elementary music teacher Caroline Burns.
Classes begin August 23.
Here are links to articles about how other school districts in Montana are addressing the issue: