Individual school districts to decide on mask mandates for students and staff

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Some local school districts will require their students to wear masks in the classroom for the upcoming year, but not all of them… at least as of right now.

All students and staff should wear masks inside schools regardless of whether they’re vaccinated, that’s the message from the CDC and many school districts are following suit. Massachusetts doesn’t plan on requiring any children to wear masks in schools across the state this fall but some school districts are making their own rules.

Along with Springfield requiring students and staff to wear a mask in school, Amherst public schools have been added to the list. Holyoke is planning on making an announcement Wednesday.

“And that will include all the information around masking, safety protocols. we do plan on bringing our students back early than most districts in this region,” said Holyoke Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Soto.

Only 30 percent of students 12 to 15 have been fully vaccinated. The FDA has asked vaccine developers for more safety data and larger numbers of children to be involved in the trials needed to approve vaccines to protect children under 12. Experts now predict those vaccines for elementary and some middle school students may not be available until early 2022.

Springfield made the decision to have students and staff mask up last week. Chief Communications Officer for the Springfield School District Azell Cavaan told 22News, “We have measures in place that we produced when COVID-19 first came out in terms of cleaning and disinfecting measures that are in the school buildings. There is hand sanitizer in every single classroom.”

Governor Charlie Baker said he will let communities make their own decisions about masking in schools. He said he has no plans to implement a mandate. Other school districts are expected to release their plans for the school year in the next few weeks.

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