Between parents, community members, the teachers union and other school teachers/administration, etc., it became evident that the lifting of school masking in Bigfork, Montana, was not going to happen. Not quite yet. As it stands, the mask mandate will remain intact, at least for a while. Except for one brave and bright school board trustee who abstained from voting it back in, the other 6 board members voted to reinstate the face apparatuses until April 9th.
Dan Elwell, Bigfork School Board Trustee, has 4 kids of his own and decided to refrain from voting. “It’s a tough call. I don’t want to see distant learning or half school Wednesdays. I don’t want to block scheduling or separation of students. The pushback and pressure from everybody were unbelievable. There were written emails stating they wanted the masking to continue. Others of course are against it. Some can be very threatening.”
With the vote at 6 for the masking, Elwell was the 1 vote not accounted for. “I knew it wouldn’t matter one or another if I voted,” he shared.
Many who emailed in wanted the mask mandate extended until the end of the school year.
Elwell continued, “That’s not gonna happen. A compromise was made, and students will stay masked up with zero medical exemptions until April 9th.” A “Negotiation Committee” (which included 2 of the 4 who originally voted against further masking) decided to allow a re-vote concerning the masking craze.
Many teachers fall under the medically fragile category (counting members of their family etc.) and are literally waiting for the “vaccine.” Elwell went on, “This whole thing has been so disruptive. We don’t have the resources or substitute teachers to keep schools open if teachers are absent.”
Another board member did say he “took an oath to defend the US and Montana State Constitution and stated there was nothing in them about “dictating medical policies.” (This same man was one of the four initial school board members who originally voted to rescind it.)
Perhaps he’s not reading the actual documents he’s quoting because the Montana State Constitution in Article 2 Sections 2, 3, and 4 cover the fact that it’s illegal to take away a person’s “dignity” which face diapers, muzzles, cloths, or plastic shields obviously do. The fact is Montanan’s are BY LAW in charge of their own decisions concerning their own bodies. It’s called “bodily autonomy.”
There were approximately 15 people who spoke during the public comment time at the actual board meeting. Of the 15, 13 opposed the extension of masking, and 2 of them supported it (both teachers.) One young man, a student, gave an excellent testimony against masking that was highly encouraging.
So, for now, the mask stays on to the applaud of some and the distress of others.