Massachusetts education chief extends school mask mandate through October

  • Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey Riley, center, faces reporters as Gov. Charlie Baker, right, looks on during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, at the State House in Boston. AP FILE PHOTO/STEVEN SENNE

State House News Service
Published: 9/27/2021 8:48:45 PM

Masks will remain required in Massachusetts public schools until at least Nov. 1, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said in guidance issued to districts and published Monday.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in August authorized Commissioner Jeff Riley to require masks for students age 5 and up and school staff through at least Oct. 1, and Riley on Monday extended the requirement through at least Nov. 1.

The board also declared in August that “exigent circumstances” exist that hinder students’ ability to safely attend classes, a move that allows Riley to issue health and safety requirements for districts.

The mask plan Riley put forward in August allowed for middle and high schools where at least 80% of students and staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to be able to lift the mask requirement in October, for vaccinated individuals only. Kids age 12 and under are still not eligible for the shots.

Under the latest guidance, as of Oct. 15, in schools that submit to the state an attestation form demonstrating a vaccination rate of 80% or higher among students and staff, vaccinated individuals will no longer need to wear masks.

School districts reported 2,236 new COVID-19 cases among students and 318 in staff last week.

The combined total of 2,554 during the week of Sept. 16-22 is up from the 1,420 logged over three days in the previous week’s report.

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