SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Mayor Domenic Sarno along with Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris held a COVID-19 Situational Update at Springfield City Hall.
Mayor Sarno announced that masks will be required for students and faculty, no matter their vaccination status, at the beginning of the school year. Students will be kept at least three feet away from one another. He also said the city will attempt to vaccinate students in schools with parental permission for those eligible to receive the shot.
Springfield Public Schools will continue to work with students and parents on permission slips to vaccinate students. Parents should expect an automated phone call from Springfield Public Schools with more information about the masking.
- Per the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – full in-person learning will commence in the fall
- Social distancing within the classroom will be done to the best of Springfield Public Schools (SPS) ability up to three (3) ft.
- Face masks will be required for all students, teachers, staff and visitors – regardless of vaccination status
- Exceptions include for medical and/or religious
- Face masks will be required for travel on all SPS buses
- SPS will continue with pool COVID-19 testing
- SPS will continue to work with students and parents on permission slips to vaccinate students
Mayor Sarno during his update urged all city residents to get the vaccine. The mayor also strongly recommended that all individuals wear masks but did not say there was a mandate in place.
Mayor Sarno and HHS Commissioner Caulton-Harris stated, “This is not to be alarmist, but a continued preemptive strike to be proactive so that we can continue to balance public health and moving our economy forward. We are in a much better position to handle this recent uptick with all our prior stockpiling of PPE’s, disinfection cleaning, and retrofitting all our schools and municipal buildings above and beyond the ASHRAE standards with state-of-the-art air flow ventilation systems, and of course, the vaccine ‘is the ace in the hole’.”
City employees are not at this time required to get the vaccine but were strongly urged to; Mayor Sarno did warn that if COVID-19 case numbers did not go down, he would not hesitate to add the mandate as a condition of employment for city employees. City employees who are not vaccinated are required to test frequently. Mayor Sarno did not give a timeline for how often individuals will be required to get tested.
City Hall and all Municipal Buildings
- City Hall and all municipal buildings will remain open to the public
- No temperature checks to enter public buildings
- No appointments needed
- Per the CDC and DPH recommended guidelines, it is strongly recommended that all visitors who are NOT vaccinated wear a mask while indoors
- Exceptions include for medical and religious
- It is recommended that those who are vaccinated, especially those who may have an increase risk due to pre-existing health conditions, weakened immune system, or other at-risk measures, wear a mask in indoor settings under certain conditions
- City employees are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated
- City employees who are not vaccinated will be required to get tested frequently
- As of today, the City will not mandate getting the vaccine as a condition of employment, however, the City will not hesitate to implement this condition if COVID-19 numbers do not improve to help preserve and protect our municipal workforce and the public
Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris shared the Mayor’s comments, urging the public to get vaccinated. The Human Services Commissioner also urged those who had hesitation on receiving the vaccine do research from verified sources.
Massachusetts is a national leader in vaccinations – with 72 percent of residents having at least one dose. More than four million Massachusetts residents have had at least one dose of the vaccine administered, that number is increasing each day but not drastically.
While that number grows, Hampden County’s vaccination rate isn’t, remaining the lowest in the state. The CDC now lists Hampden County as a “substantial risk” for community COVID-19 transmission. They’re now recommending people wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
In Springfield, for the week of July 25, there were 122 reported cases with almost half of those cases being residents age 30 and under. Over 88% of residents age 65 to 74 have been vaccinated and nearly 82% of residents over 75 years old are vaccinated.
Mayor Sarno states, “After conferring with our Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris and in light of the information provided by the CDC and DPH to help preserve and protect our municipal workforce and our residents and business community from this new Delta variant, the City of Springfield is making these public health and safety recommendations to help mitigate the community spread of this Coronavirus. My administration will continue to closely monitor and make recommendations and guidance based on the science and data we receive.”
HHS Commissioner Caulton-Harris stated, “This virus is here to stay. This is not a sprint; this is a marathon. Unless we get vaccinated we are at risk. This new Delta variant is no joke and poses a great risk. We will continue to work with all of our partners to make sure that this life saving vaccine is readily available for everyone. I want to thank all of our residents who have already received this vaccination. I also want to thank our many local community organizers and institutions who have worked together with us to provide much-needed outreach initiatives and local neighborhood clinics. There is still much work to do but together I have the full confidence that if we remain vigilant and take the appropriate action that is needed we will get through this stronger and healthier. Again, I ask all of our residents, young and old, get your vaccine.”
“We have all worked so hard throughout this pandemic,” Mayor Sarno added. “The vaccine works. I implore our residents to please, get vaccinated. This is about public health, plain and simple, not politics and/or conspiracy theories, which have never stopped and/or cured a medical challenge. Please get and review the proven facts.”
While Massachusetts does not have a mask or vaccine mandate in place, cities and towns are beginning to make it a requirement. New York City will require proof of vaccination to enter all restaurants, fitness centers and indoor entertainment venues. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the policy will take effect over the next few weeks.