MALDEN, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – State officials have extended a mask requirement for Massachusetts public schools.
On Tuesday, Mass. Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley extended the requirement for K-12 schools through at least January 15, 2022 after consulting with state health officials and medical experts.
Riley explained in a statement:
“Masks remain a simple and effective measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep students in school safely.”
“Together with the Test and Stay program, high vaccination rates, low transmission rates in schools and all the hard work in keeping our students safe, our kids are able to stay in school where they belong and can flourish.”
The following requirements will remain in effect:
- Public school students ages 5 and older in all grades and staff are required to wear masks indoors in schools, except when eating, drinking, or during mask breaks.
- All visitors are also expected to wear a mask in school buildings, regardless of vaccination status.
- Masks are not required outdoors.
- It is strongly recommended that students younger than 5 also wear a mask in school
- Students and staff who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, and students who cannot wear a mask for behavioral reasons are exempted from this requirement+
The state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said that they will continue to evaluate and consider other criteria in the future to lift the mask requirement based on public health data.
Mass. Education Commissioner James Peyser added:
“Massachusetts is a national leader in vaccination rates for adults and eligible children, and in anticipation of the vaccine becoming available in the coming weeks for children ages 5 to 11 years old, this extension of the mask requirement will allow time for the elementary school population to receive the COVID-19 vaccine."
“This will be another big step forward in our efforts to keep school safe for our kids.”
This is a developing story. More to come as it becomes available.