The campaign comes as Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton has said new rules will issued if Billings can’t halt the increase in its new cases, and as health providers issued a plea for people for people to follow health precautions.
The push is backed by groups including the Billings Chamber of Commerce, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings Clinic, RiverStone Health, Big Sky Economic Development, Visit Billings, Billings Public Schools, Billings Catholic Schools, Montana State University Billings, Rocky Mountain College, and the Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools.
Whether school buildings should remain open has been a topic of academic and practical debate. Education and health experts have made evidence-backed cases for both sides.
Schools offer critical in-person services for kids, and there was significant concern about student mental and emotional health during spring shutdowns. However, school buildings have the potential to become hotbeds of COVID-19 spread if safety measures like masks and cohorts aren’t used effectively.
A group of doctors wrote in July’s New England Journal of Medicine that that primary schools should be considered “essential,” but that opening decisions posed “a profound social and moral dilemma.”