BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeff Riley has officially come out in favor of a mask mandate to start the school year.
With COVID cases on the rise due to the delta variant, Commissioner Riley plans to ask the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday to grant him authority to mandate masks for all public K-12 students, educators, and staff through October 1.
Commissioner Riley’s request comes after months of pleas from parents, educators, and health care workers to bring back an indoor mask mandate.
“Masking is one of the mitigation strategies that we can use to reduce risk and keep kids in school where they need to be,” said Dr. Carol Allen, president of the Mass Medical Society.
If the board approves Commissioner Riley’s request students will have to wear masks when they return to the classroom this fall, but middle and high schools would have the ability to lift the mask mandate for vaccinated students and staff if 80 percent of people in the building are vaccinated.
Now the number of people in opposition to the mask mandate is growing. They say they want students to return to the classroom without face coverings at all and with more than 900 signatures a petition to do just that is gaining traction.