Statewide school mask requirement to end February 28

BOSTON — The statewide mask requirement for K-12 schools in Massachusetts will be lifted on February 28, according to state education officials.

At that time, DESE and the Department of Public Health recommend students and faculty wear masks in certain scenarios consistent with DESE’s COVID protocols.

Governor Charlie Baker, Education Secretary James Peyser, and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley are scheduled to have a news conference at 10:30 Wednesday morning to talk about the changes.

“With Massachusetts a national leader in vaccinating kids, combined with our robust testing programs, it is time to lift the mask mandate in schools and give students and staff a sense of normalcy after dealing with enormous challenges over the past two years,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We have all the tools to keep schools safe as we move into dealing with the next phase of managing COVID.”

DESE says the decision was made “in consultation with infectious disease physicians, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and other medical experts. Vaccinations are the best protection against COVID-19, and Massachusetts has among the highest vaccination rates of young people and is a national leader in overall vaccination,” according to a statement from education officials.

DESE says that In Massachusetts, 52% of all individuals who are fully vaccinated have received a booster dose, compared to 42% of the national population.

The American Federal of Teachers Massachusetts has 23,000 members in the state.

AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. released a statement Wednesday saying “COVID-19 remains a serious threat in dozens of Massachusetts school districts where vaccine rates for children ages 5 to 11 are dangerously low. We expect many of those districts to maintain their in-school mask mandates. And we again call on the Baker administration to conduct comprehensive in-school vaccination programs, particularly in poorer, urban communities that have been devastated by the pandemic. It will be a challenge, but the Governor cannot walk away from our youngest students at this critical time.”

The Archdiocese of Boston announced on Wednesday, that it will be eliminating all school masking mandates on behalf of all Archdiocesan parochial schools and Archdiocesan-related Catholic schools.

“This applies to children of any age in our schools,” said the statement from the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese plans to continue to follow the existing federal order for mask wearing on school buses.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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