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Northampton school district reinstates mask mandate

Northampton school district reinstates mask mandate
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 11:00 PM EDT
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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -Northampton Public Schools is reinstating their mask mandate this week.

The Northampton School Superintendent, John Provost, said it’s due to a rise in COVID cases.

Northampton’s school district was one of the last to lift its mask mandate back at the end of March. But now, less than two months later, they are temporarily bringing back the requirement for ten days. Students Western Mass News spoke with support of the decision.

“I have two teachers that have COVID right now that aren’t here,” said senior Jane Tecu.

COVID cases are on the rise at Northampton Public Schools, prompting superintendent John Provost to reinstate the district’s mask mandate.

“Well, it’s concerning to hear the increase. It’s over double the number that have recorded weekly in the past,” said Gwen Agna, vice-chair district’s school committee.

Agna told Western Mass News that the superintendent made the decision in consultation with the Northampton Health Department and the State Division of Epidemiology and Immunization and she supports it.

“I really do heed the advice of our city public health department. I think the health department is looking out for the best interest of our community and keeping us safe,” said Agna.

In a letter sent home to families this week, Superintendent John Provost said that from last Wednesday to Friday, the number of cases reported in schools shot up from 64 to 139, an increase that students said they’ve noticed around school.

“A lot of people I know have been getting COVID and a lot of people around the school have been getting COVID, so being able to get the mask mandate back and feel safer in the school really helps us learn,” said junior Sonam Yelin.

Many students told Western Mass News that they think the face-covering requirement is a good idea, so people aren’t forced to stay home sick.

“Sometimes people need to talk to people and when they’re staying at home they feel really isolated and that’s not good for their mental health,” said junior Tyler Keel.

Especially as seniors near the end of their school year.

“We have our prom and graduation coming up and we really don’t want to get sick for that so I feel like its important that we’re all staying safe now,” said Tecu.

The masking requirement will last until at least May 20, with the potential to be extended. School officials will review cases and decide before May 20.