HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Students and staff will be required to wear masks inside Holyoke Public Schools, regardless of their vaccination status.

In a news release sent to 22News from Holyoke Public Schools, masks will be required except for eating, outdoors, and during mask breaks. Social distancing of 3 feet wherever possible, routine COVID-19 safety checks (formerly known as pooled testing), and grouping students in cohorts.

“This plan was developed with a student-first mindset that provides students with a safe, positive, and productive school year and that maximizes the likelihood of uninterrupted learning for everyone,” Receiver/Superintendent Anthony Soto said. “Our guidelines were developed with DESE and CDC guidance, as well as consultations with the local board of health and input from families through our Family Survey that received over 1,000 responses.”

Holyoke Public Schools has partnered with the Holyoke Health Center to provide the community vaccine clinic to students, families, and residents in order to get fully vaccinated before the start of the upcoming school year.

To schedule an appointment visit Holyoke Health’s website

Anyone 12 years and older can attend the free clinic on Wednesday, August 11 from from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The clinic will be held at Holyoke High School North located at 500 Beech Street, parking is available at 86 Resnick Blvd (Roberts Sport Complex parking) and enter into Door #14. The clinic will be giving out the two-dose Pfizer vaccine.

Students in grades 1-12 start August 23 and kindergarteners will start on August 30 at Holyoke Public Schools.

Face Masks/ Coverings Letter for Families

Dear Families, 

This fall, face coverings or cloth masks will be worn by all students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 and staff members when indoors, except those students who cannot do so due to medical conditions or behavioral needs. Masks should NOT be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

  • Masks are not necessary outdoors and may be removed while eating indoors.  
  •  By federal public health order, all students and staff are required to wear masks on school busses. 
  • Please note: DESE and DPH will continue to consult with medical advisors and may update the masking requirements as they learn more about COVID-19’s effects on hospitalizations in Massachusetts and on children.

When selecting your/your child’s mask, please consider the following.  It should:

  • Completely cover the nose and mouth and stay in place
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include at least two or more layers of fabric to help stop the spread of COVID-19
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

Please know that masks with a one-way valve are not recommended because this type of mask filters the air breathed in, and not out, so it could potentially spread the virus if the person wearing it were infected. Similarly, NO bandanas, neck gaiters, or other “non-mask” face coverings are allowed at school or on the bus. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend the use of face shields alone. Evaluation of face shields is ongoing but effectiveness is unknown at this time. An individual may choose to wear a face shield which provides some eye protection, however, a face-covering/mask must also be worn with the face shield.

Fabric masks should be washed after each use. Click here for further guidance on how to wash fabric face coverings and how to store masks.  For additional information contact your child’s school nurse. or visit Mask Up MA!

Cynthia Carbone, MEd, MSN, RN
Director of Health, Wellness, and Nursing