Massachusetts families anxiously wait for statewide masking announcement
SEEKONK, Mass. (WLNE) – Families in Massachusetts are anxiously waiting for the announcement from the Education Commissioner on a statewide mask mandate.
Commissioner Jeffrey Riley is expected to issue a mandate on Wednesday after the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted Tuesday to give him the authority to mandate masks indoors for all public K-12 students and staff.
“It’s definitely a mix. It’s sad; it’s really divided the community,” North Attleborough parent Chelsey Fitch said.
The masking debate has pitted parents, students, and teachers against each other. Fitch falls on the pro-masking side, especially since her 1st and 3rd graders can’t yet get vaccinated.
“I think we’re all going for the common goal: we all want our kids to be safe and everything like that. We all love our kids and want what’s best for them, we’re just going about it a different way,” Fitch said. “Especially with the Delta variant coming on full force, it’s important to keep our kids as safe as possible. To me, I think especially starting out the year it’s important to have a mask mandate in place.”
Commissioner Riley has previously pushed for a mandate in place until October 1st with the hope to ensure that schools can fully re-open safely in-person and gives students and staff more time to get vaccinated. After October 1st, those middle and high schools where at least 80% are vaccinated can drop the mandate.
“I have to say I am a little nervous because I still don’t know what to expect or what’s going to happen yet,” Seenkonk Junior Josh Troiano said. “A lot of us have just been waiting to hear.”
Seekonk Junior Josh Troiano falls on the other side of the debate.
“I respect both sides, but ultimately I believe that it should be up to the parents and what they think is best for their child,” Troiano said. “I completely understand why parents don’t want their kids to be masked all day especially if they got the vaccine so I can see both sides but I’ll certainly be disappointed and frustrated.”