Mask - Vault image

BILLINGS, Mont. - Billings Public Schools Superintendent, Greg Upham, announced he is implementing a mask requirement at Billings K-12 schools.

“As I have shared in the past, I communicate regularly, often daily, with our local medical community, to ensure I understand the real-time impact of COVID-19 in our community,” Upham said in a statement. “I have now been notified of a COVID-19 outbreak among students participating in an extracurricular activity at Skyview High School. Parents of all potentially exposed students were notified as soon as we became aware of the situation. The level of outbreak among this team is significant enough to cancel a scheduled game and cause me to reevaluate masking.”

In the last 48-hours, it was learned that what started as one positive student case of COVID-19, increased to at least ten percent of that team in just a few days.

The students were reportedly together at practice outside for the most part and were not in close proximity like in a normal indoor school setting.

Upham said he has concluded it is best to reimplement masking in schools based on the reported COVID-19 infections in Yellowstone County, including the steadily rising number among school-aged children, the outbreak with our students, the fact our hospitals are at capacity and because the Delta variant is highly infectious.

Just days ago it was announced that masking would be optional in SD2, and at the time, Upham says he was hopeful they could start the school year without required masking.

“If this same rate of transmission occurred in our classrooms during the first week of school, we could potentially have hundreds, if not thousands, of our students out of class within a short time frame if we do not mask. School districts in other states have already seen that occur,” Upham said.

Upham went on to say he will continue to regularly communicate with local health officials and utilize the most recent Yellowstone County COVID-19 metrics as he reassesses the need for masking.

You can read the full statement from Superintendent Greg Upham here.