Mask measures return to Northampton schools

  • Northampton High School GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 1/1/2023 8:20:55 PM
Modified: 1/1/2023 8:20:05 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Students and staff members returning to Northampton public schools will return to temporary masking for nine days, as the school looks to add precautionary measures in light of climbing COVID-19 and flu cases across the country.

In a letter sent to members of the school community dated Dec. 30, interim Superintendent Jannell Pearson-Campbell said that the temporary measure would last from Tuesday, Jan. 3 to Friday, Jan. 13, the first two weeks of school in the new year.

“While we are all eager to return to a sense of normalcy, we need to take necessary precautions to ensure that the new year starts in a strong and productive way for our schools,” the letter states. “Employees returning to NPS on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023, are asked and expected to begin masking that day.”

The letter states that the new adoption of mask-wearing is a recommendation, not a mandate. Pearson-Campbell told the Gazette that the measures were being put in place simply as a precaution, as many students return from traveling around the country to visit families during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

“We’re just trying to keep our staff and students safe,” she said.

The recommendation marks the first implementation of a masking policy at NPS since Pearson-Campbell assumed the role of interim superintendent last July. The COVID-19 mask mandate was ended by the school district last May. It also marks the first time a masking policy has been introduced since the Northampton School Committee voted to use state guidelines on masking, rather than its own, back in November.

In addition to the temporary masking policy, students also were sent at-home COVID-19 tests prior to the holiday break should they develop any symptoms. Hampshire County is currently rated as having a “low” community level spread as of Dec. 29, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at
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