SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM)--A concerned Western Mass News viewer reached out to our getting answers line, asking why her grandkids have to wear masks outdoors during recess at their Springfield school.
We checked it out and found the mask guidance has changed from what was in place at the beginning of the school year. Officials told us it has helped keep COVID cases down in Springfield schools.
“Nobody wants to be in their mask every day all day and unfortunately right now that is the reality in our schools,” said Azell Cavaan, Chief Communications Officer of Springfield Public Schools.
Cavaan responded to questions we presented from a concerned viewer, whose grandchildren are masking up outside every day for recess at Dryden Elementary School. The viewer, who wanted to remain anonymous, asked:
“I was informed that children must wear masks outside during recess. it has been going on for a couple of weeks… if this is true why was it implemented and by whom? just the school department or was it the health department? why?”
We went to check it out for ourselves, we saw students outside for recess at Dryden Elementary, all of them masked up.
“The data shows that transmission is higher among people 20 years old and younger so we took that guidance and we extended it to our schools for outdoors,” said Cavaan.
Students are permitted a few mask breaks a day and it’s up to individual schools and classrooms when and where they are used.
“Mask breaks will look different in every school, even every classroom within every school. Generally, there will be within two and three break a day, that may be your breakfast time or that may be your lunchtime,” said Cavaan.
We're told the guidance changed district-wide in early September. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s weekly COVID data, released every Thursday, backs up the potential impact of the move.
Springfield Public Schools COVID-19 data, students:
9/16 to 9/22: 107 positive cases
9/23 to 9/29: 74 positive cases
9/30 to 10/6: 42 positive cases
The latest data reveals 42 positive cases. That’s a big step down from 74 cases the week before, a significant decrease over a two-week period.
While she said the policy has drawn mixed reactions, it’s always safety first.
“We know there’s no decision that’s going to please everyone but we will always make a decision that’s in the best interest of the safety and security of the students and staff,“ said Cavaan.
Cavaan said the guidance is very fluid and she assures us it’s something discussed all day every day.