CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The start of the school year is approaching, and there will be COVID-19 protocols in place to keep students and staff safe.

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to give the state’s education commissioner the authority to mandate masks for K-12 students and staff.

Along with mask wearing, the Chicopee School District also wants to maximize physical distancing, especially in the cafeteria when students have to take their masks off to eat. But their superintendent does expect DESE’s guidance to change, as new COVID data gets released.

“The more we find out about the delta variant the more things will change. And we have to pivot one way or another with different distancing maybe.” Lynn Clark, Chicopee Superintendent

The temporary mask mandate would be in effect at all school districts this year until October 1st, giving school districts time to get that 80-percent vaccination mark for students and staff. At that point, middle and high school students and staff would be able to take them off.