Just two days after announcing that students and teachers would not be required to wear masks, Billings School District 2 has changed course.

According to a press release from Billings SD2 Superintendent Greg Upham, effective tomorrow (Sunday 8/22), all students, employees and visitors will be required to wear masks "during the normal school day at our K-12 schools."

Upham says he was notified of an outbreak during an extracurricular activity at Skyview High School, and the outbreak was "significant enough" to cancel the game, and caused Superintendent Upham to "reevaluate masking."

In the press release, Upham says he is mandating masks in schools because of the "steadily rising number" of infections among school-aged children, and due to the "fact hospitals are at capacity."

This is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to keep our schools open. I recognize the timing of this decision is unfortunate. -Billings School District 2 Superintendent Greg Upham

Upham said in the press release that he was "hopeful" the school year would start without requiring masks, but changed his mind after finding out that one COVID-19 positive test quickly turned into infections of "at least 10 percent of that team, in just a few days."

In the press release, Superintendent Upham said his goal has always been "to protect and educate our students to the best of our ability." Upham is asking that everyone "pull together for the sake of our students, to allow them to have a healthly and successful school year."

According to the School District 2 press release, other states have seen a high rate of COVID-19 transmission in their school districts when masking isn't required.

Superintendent Upham said he would be communicating with local health officials, and use the latest COVID-19 metrics in Yellowstone County as he "constantly reassesses the necessity of masking."

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