Daines Urges CDC to Listen to Local Montana Leaders & Parents, Reverse Mask Mandate on School Buses

U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines is urging the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to withdraw the mask mandate on school buses that infringes on the authority of Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to make their own decisions regarding the safety and health of their students. 

“This fall, a significant proportion of Montana students will return to their classrooms without masks. Forcing young children to wear masks on the school bus, only to arrive at school and remove them makes no sense. Furthermore, it exposes an intrusion of the federal government into the daily operation of local school districts. I am not alone in my concern over this latest effort of the Biden administration to consolidate its control over public education and I urge you to withdraw this mandate,” Daines wrote.

Read the letter HERE. 

Statements of Support:

“As parents, educators, and students across Montana work to return to normalcy this school year, the CDC’s one-size-fits-all approach to masking on school buses undermines local authority and fails to consider the voices of parents. I encourage the CDC to respect local school reopening plans and join Senator Daines in urging a reversal of this misguided federal policy.” –Governor Greg Gianforte

 “I strongly support local control and parental input. Top-down mandates do not reflect our frontier states. Montana schools range from rural one-room school houses with two students to urban districts that house several thousand students.  Parents know what is best for their children and we support their parental right to make the appropriate health and education decisions for their families. I support the efforts of Senator Daines, and I urge the CDC to respect the rights of parents and families.” — Elsie Arntzen, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction 

“We are grateful for Senator Daines’ leadership in raising this important issue on behalf of public schools throughout Montana. The imposition of a requirement for masks on buses does not square with the discretionary guidance CDC has issued with regard to masks in our public schools.  We hope to see CDC address masks on buses in the same manner as they do with regard to other public school settings, as a recommendation subject to local control rather than as a one size fits all mandate.” –Lance Melton, Executive Director of the Montana School Boards Association

“We sincerely appreciate Senator Daines’ letter to the CDC Director as a follow up to our conversation this summer. This is a great first step in clarifying CDC’s policy, and Executive Order 13998, requiring masking on public transportation, and school bussing in particular. As the Senator points out, Montana is a rural state that’s committed to local control; and not all policies mandated in Washington reflect the realities of rural America or Montana in particular. As schools begin opening their doors across the state, with voluntary and optional masking policies in place, the bussing mandate simply sends a mixed message to our students, parents, and staff. Thanks to Senator Daines for taking this issue to heart and following up on our request. Please reach out to me again if additional information on this or on other topics regarding public education in Montana.” –Rick Duncan, Montana Association of School Superintendents 


Contact: Katherine McKeoghKatie Schoettler