Governor Steve Bullock called Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen on Monday to discuss issues surrounding the opening of Montana’s public schools.

The call came after Arntzen had complained to the press about the lack of communication from the Governor with her office regarding pandemic issues. At a press conference last week, Bullock voiced his opinion of her complaints.

“Elsie’s contention that she's somehow been boxed out of communications is not only incorrect, but it's also fairly bizarre,” said Bullock. “She's had the opportunity to meet with my staff literally every single week of this pandemic. It’s clear that the superintendent is still a little bit confused. So my chief of staff's has also reached out and offered weekly meetings with the superintendent, she's yet to respond to that request.”

Arntzen appeared live on the KGVO Montana Morning show on Tuesday and referenced the Governor’s most recent communication about mandatory masking.

You know, I did give him grace,” she said. “He is the governor of our state. He's got a lot of things that he is working on, but when it comes to schools, he is not an expert.

“The most recent one stipulates that masks don't have to be worn while students are in their desks,” said Arntzen. “I shared with the governor and said, ‘Well, if you would have visited with us ahead of time, you would know that there are places in school where learning takes place where there are no desks. Let's talk about band, how about shop class and of course for special needs students, and how about those kindergarten classrooms where students you know, sit and learn on a rug'.”

Arntzen said she just wants to put all the rancor aside and concentrate on students and Montana’s public schools.

“You know, I did give him grace,” she said. “He is the governor of our state. He's got a lot of things that he is working on, but when it comes to schools, he is not an expert. So when we have his staff come to our table, there needs to be back and forth communication. I think it was a good call yesterday. I'm optimistic that he's not going to politicize school opening anymore, and that we can both move our schools forward as they reopen this fall very safely.”

Arntzen is running for reelection against her Democrat opponent Melissa Romano.

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