Worcester families make last-minute preps before school starts Monday

WORCESTER — Families in Worcester were busy on Sunday getting last-minute school supplies before the first day of school on Monday.

Many parents say they’re looking forward to the new year now that their kids will be back in school in person full-time, unlike last year.

“I’m excited for them, I just can’t wait for tomorrow, I’m going to bring all of them to school, I’m going to be the one driving them,” said Edwin Ruiz, who has three daughters in Worcester Public Schools.

All students will need to wear masks inside school buildings.

Worcester school leaders required this before the state announced its own mandate.

“I’m fine with it, my kids are all vaccinated, but I think an extra layer of safety is not going to hurt,” said Amy Lubowicki, who has two daughters in Worcester schools.

“Even though they got to wear masks, I’m okay with that so they get more protected,” said Ruiz.

Worcester health officials say masks are needed to protect students from the delta variant as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Worcester’s Health and Human Services Commissioner Dr. Mattie Castiel says not enough teens are vaccinated in Worcester.

“That’s our lowest numbers compared to everybody else, and that’s why our goal is to increase vaccinations,” said Dr. Castiel.

She says only 37% of youth ages 12 to 15 are fully vaccinated in Worcester, and only 39% of teens 16 to 19 have gotten both shots.

“We have to get vaccinated, there’s no other way to get out of this COVID unless all of us get vaccinated,” said Dr. Castiel. “We get vaccines, we get all kinds of vaccines when you’re a kid, this is just one more of them.”

Even though the COVID vaccine is not mandated for students, school leaders are encouraging teens to get vaccinated.

They plan to host vaccine clinics, raffles, and work with youth influencers to get more students vaccinated soon.

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