Massachusetts extends school mask mandate another month
MALDEN, Mass. (AP) — State education officials on Monday extended Massachusetts’ public school indoor mask mandate an extra month.
The mandate that applies to students, staff and faculty, was scheduled to expire on Oct. 1, but will now run through at least Nov. 1, state Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said.
Middle and high schools can apply for a waiver from the face covering rules if 80% of their students and staff have been vaccinated, he said.
“The best interest of students and staff as they return safely to full-time, in-person instruction this fall is at the forefront of my decision,” he said in a statement. “Wearing masks is an important additional measure to keep students in school safely at this time. As health conditions evolve, we will continue to work with medical experts to find masking offramps for our youngest students who are not yet eligible for vaccines.”
The original mandate was announced in August. It applies to students age 5 and over. Masks are not required outdoors or while eating, and a limited number of other indoor activities.
If a school reaches the 80% threshold, unvaccinated students and employees would still be required to wear a mask.
About 2,220 students and more than 300 workers at Massachusetts public schools have tested positive for COVID-19 this school year, according to the latest information available from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. That is out of about 920,000 students and 140,000 employees.