MA School Mask Mandate Extended Until January 15

 by TWIW StaffOctober 26, 2021

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced that Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley notified Massachusetts school districts on Tuesday, October 26, that he will extend the mask requirement in all K-12 public schools through at least January 15, 2022.

DESE said Riley consulted with medical experts and state health officials before reaching his decision and will continue to evaluate other criteria for future consideration to lift the mask requirement based on public health data.

School officials will continue to lift the mask requirement if they can show that at least 80 percent of all students and staff in a school building are vaccinated after submitting documentation to DESE. Lifting the mask mandate through the vaccination threshold is a local decision made by school and district leaders if they choose to do so.

The following mask 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.

All districts are required this school year to provide in-person learning to all students. Since the start of the year, approximately 920,000 public school students have been learning in schools with minimal disruptions. In addition to masking, this progress has been possible thanks to school communities working together to participate in the state’s COVID-19 testing program, combined with high vaccination rates among eligible populations.

“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,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “This will be another big step forward in our efforts to keep school safe for our kids.”

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