MALDEN, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is planning to announce a decision on whether masks will continue to be required in schools past the November 1 deadline.
Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced at Tuesday’s board meeting that early next week, he will make a decision on whether public school districts in the state will continue to require masks or if that will be lifted on November 1.
“With the November 1 deadline coming up, when will a decision be made on masks in the future? And I would say by early next week, a decision will be made whether or not to continue masks,” Riley explained.
On August 24, Riley mandated masks for all public school students in Massachusetts over the age of five with that requirement later extended through November 1. He announced today that he will make a decision early next week as to whether masks will continue to be required in public schools in the Bay State.
School districts that reach an 80 percent vaccination rate in students and staff can apply for a waiver from DESE to lift the mask mandate
“Yesterday, DESE has received a request to lift the mask mandate from nine schools,” Riley explained.
Seven schools in eastern Massachusetts have been approved to lift their masking requirement while the other submissions are still being processed. Riley added the decision to eliminate masks is a local one.
“It’s the 80-percent vaccination rate, it’s a local decision to be made by school and district leaders in consultation with health officials. They may also take additional metrics and consideration, including COVID cases in the community and participation in the COVID pool testing,” Riley noted.
Amherst-Pelham Regional Superintendent Michael Morris said that taking off masks will not be happening in their district any time soon, despite their reaching over 80 percent of students and staff fully vaccinated.
“It’s changes from our local public health folks that may shift with it, but at the current time, there’s no plans to change course anytime soon,” Morris explained.
Morris told us that regardless of if DESE decides to end masking in public schools on November 1, their district will continue to require them.