East Longmeadow school committee vote to follow DESE COVID-19 guidance on masking

Hampden County

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – The East Longmeadow School Committee voted Thursday night on COVID-19 protocols for their schools this fall.

The East Longmeadow School District will essentially adopt the recommendations from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). This means masks won’t be required in the classroom, but they will be strongly recommended for unvaccinated students.

The school committee held their meeting Thursday night to discuss the latest guidance from DESE. In a unanimous vote, 5-0, the school committee members and the superintendent voted in favor of adopting the state’s recommendations. This means that students won’t have to wear a mask in the classroom, but they will need one while riding the bus.

Unvaccinated students, visitors and staff members are strongly recommended to wear masks. DESE’s recommendations are subject to change depending on new developments on COVID-19 and its effect on children. The committee said they will be willing to bring a mandate up for a vote again if the DESE guidance changes in the future.

22News contacted the superintendent and school committee Friday, but we haven’t heard back. The school committee plans to hold their next meeting August 31st.

You can watch the full East Longmeadow School Committee meeting below:

The seven guidelines recommended by DESE on masking in schools are written as follows:

• This fall, DESE and DPH strongly recommend that all students in kindergarten through grade 6
wear masks when indoors, except students who cannot do so due to medical conditions or
behavioral needs. Masks are not necessary outdoors and may be removed while eating indoors.
• DESE and DPH also strongly recommend that unvaccinated staff in all grades, unvaccinated
students in grades 7 and above, and unvaccinated visitors wear masks indoors, in alignment with
the statewide advisory on masking.
• DESE and DPH recommend that schools allow vaccinated students to remain unmasked.
• Any individual at higher risk for severe disease from COVID or with a household member who is at
high risk is encouraged to mask regardless of vaccination status consistent with the updated DPH
Advisory on Face Coverings and Masks.
• Any child or family who prefers to mask at school should be supported in this choice.
• By federal public health order, all students and staff are required to wear masks on school buses at
this time.
• All staff and students must wear masks while in school health offices. Additional guidance for
school health professionals is forthcoming from DPH.

Springfield, Holyoke, South Hadley, and Amherst will be requiring vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff to wear a face covering in the classroom.

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