A small but enthusiastic group of parents, grandparents and children stood on the sidewalk adjacent to the Missoula County Public School Administration building on South Avenue on Tuesday afternoon asking for their children to have a choice about whether or not to wear a mask in school.

Mark Livesay, whose family moved to Missoula from Missouri said he came to Missoula for more freedom.

“We're not against masks, and we're not against vaccines,” said Livesay. “All my kids have been vaccinated with all the vaccines that are required. We're certainly not anti vaxxers, but we're about people just having the ability to make a choice, and parents should have the choice. If their kids want to wear their mask, if they want to get vaccinated or they don't we support you either way.”

Livesay said their approach works well with any school family situation.


“The arguments are always that, well, they could go to school and bring it home and infect an elderly grandmother,” he said. “Those are the cases where they need to really consider if their child should wear a mask at school. If they've got a situation at home, or they've got a life situation that maybe they need to do that (wear a mask) then they need to absolutely do that. And that's where we're out here to support; their choice and the other side's choice.”

Livesay believes receiving the COVID 19 vaccine should also be up to each individual and family.

“ They’re forcing people to take an experimental drug,” he said. “Because if you also look at that policy statement, they said that, if I'm quoting this correctly, that we would wear masks until the vaccine was approved, and then we would force the kids to have vaccines. That was basically the underlying message and what I read, you correct me if I'm wrong on that.”

Livesay said for the most part, the small group of people gathered on the sidewalk had not protested before.

“Most of the people standing out here on this sidewalk, these are not professional protesters,” he said. “Every person I've talked to is like this is the first time they've ever protested. Conservatives and freedom-of-choice people just do not protest. But you can tell that it's obviously people have gotten to the point where they're ready to step up and ready to do it.”

The MCPS school board meeting is being held at 6:00 p.m. via ZOOM due to the large number of people expected on both sides of the masking issue.

The recommendation to the board by Superintendent Rob Watson and the COVID Task Force is that all K-8 students wear masks while indoors, but not outdoors.

The board is expected to follow that recommendation when school starts in the fall.

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Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

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