BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS)– A day after K-12 students returned to classrooms with a statewide mask mandate no longer in place, the Baker administration announced that children no longer need to mask up while riding in school buses or vans.
The state Department of Public Health published an updated advisory on Tuesday that does not feature a face covering requirement for bus and van transportation to and from schools and child care centers, aligning Massachusetts with federal policy changes rolled out last week.
On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would no longer mandate masks on school buses and vans for both K-12 schools and for child care programs, affecting both public and private schools.
“As always, any individual who wishes to continue to mask should be supported in that choice,” Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley wrote in a Monday night newsletter. Riley announced Feb. 8 that a statewide mandate for students and staff to mask up in K-12 schools would expire at the end of the month. At that time, he said masks would continue to be required on school buses in compliance with federal rules.
Masks remain required on some forms of transportation including public transit and flights as well as in health care facilities, but state and local officials have been steadily loosening mandates in recent weeks as cases and hospitalizations decline after a winter spike fueled by the omicron variant.
The Boston Public Health Commission plans to meet later on Tuesday to review the city’s COVID-19 response and an order requiring masks in most indoor public settings.