On Tuesday morning, Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen appeared on KGVO’s Talk Back show. She answered several questions from listeners and also shared her thoughts about school closures in Montana.

“When our school doors are closed, when parents can’t even enter, and when tax payers can’t even walk in the hall or open the door because they are not wearing a face covering, that makes no sense to me at all,” Arntzen said. “I know my role as a constitutional officer. I am working very closely with our governor and our attorney general to make sure that our parental rights in Montana and our rights as adults are being upheld.”

According to Arntzen, we have over 400 school districts in Montana and they are all operating differently.

“We have some freedom loving ones that are out there with their trustees that are saying, ‘we are supporting our teachers and our faculty, our school doors are open, and they are open safely’,” Arntzen said. “Then we have some other ones that are acting under policy. I am going to tell you that I firmly believe that our constitution is stronger than those policies that have been enacted at that board level. I believe, at this point, that various movement is being made. Your passion is being heard and your passion is being echoed across our state.”

When it comes to masks in schools, Arntzen believes educators should not have a say in whether they’re required or not.

“Parents are the ones with their healthcare provider that are the determinant of any medical device,” Arntzen said. “I believe a mask is a medical device. It was defined in statute this last legislative session. Educators should not be thrust into this medical discussion. This is a family discussion with a medical provider, not in the school boardroom.”

Arntzen said the choice of wearing a mask should be up to the parent or student themselves.

“There should be choice,” Arnzten said. “If someone would like to wear that medical device and wants to protect themselves or their loved ones, that right and choice should be theirs. But to say that there is a line in the sand against one or the other, that is not who we are as Montanans.”

Arntzen reiterated that she wants to make sure the safety and health of all Montana students is being put first.

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