DESE extends school mask mandate to at least Nov. 1
After consulting with medical experts and state health officials, DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced Monday, Sept. 27 that the state will extend the school mask mandate through at least Nov. 1. The previous mask mandate, issued Aug. 25, had set a deadline of at least Oct. 1.
Under the state's mask mandate, all K-12 students, educators and staff are required to wear a mask while in schools through Nov. 1 to continue to ensure the health and safety of students and staff, and to provide time for more students and educators to get vaccinated. School visitors will also continue to be required to wear masks during this time.
With the updated mandate, if a school demonstrates a vaccination rate of 80% or more of all students and staff by Oct. 15, then vaccinated individuals in that school would no longer be subject to the mask requirement. In alignment with statewide guidance, unvaccinated students and staff would be required to continue wearing masks.
Whether or not a school or district fulfills the 80% vaccination designation, it is a local decision to be made by school and district leaders in consultation with local health officials. Schools will determine a method to collect proof of covid vaccination for all eligible staff and students.
The schools of the Old Rochester Regional School District and MA Superintendency Union #55 are currently in the process of collecting vaccination rate data and will work with their respective school committees to determine next steps in accordance with this updated guidance.
According to DESE, masks may be removed indoors or other mitigation strategies may be put into place when necessary for students to participate in elective classes, such as band.
Additionally, masks are required for any sports-related activity for student-athletes and coaches when indoors, in alignment with guidance provided by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).
Parents and guardians should note that separate from DESE’s mask mandate, under the Department of Public Health’s mask advisory, students riding any district bus or visiting any of the district’s health offices must continue to wear masks at all times while in these settings.