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Mask mandates create conflict at Billings schools

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White protective sterile face masks on vintage wooden board.

A mask mandate to limit the spread of the coronavirus in Montana’s largest school district has resulted in pushback by teachers, their union, and some parents.

Billings Public Schools Superintendent Greg Upham issued the mandate last weekend after an outbreak of COVID-19 within an extracurricular activity at one of the high schools. Earlier, masks were to have been recommended.

Now, teachers who do not wear masks or enforce the mandate would be out of work for up to five days without pay for insubordination.

The teachers union said they have an agreement with the district saying masking would be optional.

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