Education Commissioner Riley Extends School Mask Requirement Through at Least Nov. 1

Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley, right, with Gov. Charlie Baker. (Photograph by Sam Doran/SHNS.)

Masks will remain required in Massachusetts public schools until at least Nov. 1.

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley issued the order Monday. Last month, the board authorized him to require masks for students ages 5 and up and school staff through at least Oct. 1.

The board in August also declared that “exigent circumstances” exist that hinder students’ ability to safely attend classes, a move that allows Riley to issue health and safety requirements for districts. The mask plan Riley put forward allowed for middle and high schools where at least 80% of students and staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to be able to lift the mask requirement in October, for vaccinated individuals only.

Kids age 12 and under are still not eligible for the shots. Under the latest guidance, as of Oct. 15, schools that submit to the state an attestation form demonstrating a vaccination rate of 80% or higher among students and staff, vaccinated individuals will no longer need to wear masks. The department also posted additional details on calculating the percentage, reporting, “Schools should determine a method to collect proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible staff and students.”

School districts last week reported 2,236 new COVID-19 cases among students and 318 in staff. The combined total of 2,554 during the week of Sept. 16-22 is up from the 1,420 logged over three days in the previous week’s report.

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