Two medical groups call for statewide school mask mandate

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – Two doctors groups on Tuesday urged Gov. Charlie Baker to require that students and adults wear masks in schools regardless of their vaccination status, a move the governor has avoided in favor of letting local officials make their own calls.

Massachusetts Medical Society President Dr. Carole Allen and Massachusetts Academy of Family Pediatricians President Dr. Julie Johnston described mask-wearing as “a public health measure proven to reduce the transmission of COVID-19” and said it is crucial to balance safety with the importance of returning “to full-time, in-person learning with as little disruption as possible.”

“By introducing a statewide indoor masking policy for K-12 students consistent with guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics, the Commonwealth reaffirms its commitment to keeping all of our schools open and our students and staff safe,” Allen and Johnston said. “It is imperative that Massachusetts teachers, staff, students, and visitors start this school year with uniform masking requirements to protect them and those with whom they live and interact outside of the academic setting.”

State officials have recommended, but not required, that students in kindergarten through sixth grade wear masks because those age groups cannot yet be vaccinated. They’re also recommending older students and adults who are unvaccinated wear masks indoors at school. Baker has stood by that approach, pointing to the state’s high vaccination rates and saying local officials are best positioned to make decisions for their districts.

“Giving locals the opportunity to own the decisions they make is a big and important issue, and if you look at what’s playing out in other states right now where state government has taken away the authority for locals to make their own decisions, that’s not the right way to play this game. It’s just not,” he said Monday.

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