MATTAPOISETT — Superintendent Michael S. Nelson and the Old Rochester Regional School District and MA Superintendency Union #55 report that the district will be implementing the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) mask mandate for the 2021-22 school year, after the mandate was put into effect today.
Earlier today, DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley instituted a mask mandate, effective immediately, for the beginning of the upcoming school year, one day after being given the authority to institute such a mandate by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
With the issuance of the mask mandate, all K-12 students, educators and staff will be required to wear a mask while in schools through Oct. 1 to ensure schools fully reopen safely and to provide time for more students and educators to get the vaccine. Visitors to the schools will also be require to wear masks during this time.
“While it may not be the course of action that many people were hoping for, as a public school district, we are required to follow DESE’s mask mandate and will implement mask-wearing for the beginning of the school year,” Superintendent Nelson said. “The health and safety of everyone in our school buildings and buses is one of our top priorities and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation and understanding in advance. We have been diligently preparing for the new school year and are eagerly looking forward to seeing all of our students in school next week.”
After Oct. 1, the policy will allow middle and high schools to lift the mask mandate for vaccinated students and staff only if the school meets a certain vaccination rate – at least 80% of students and staff in a school building are vaccinated. Unvaccinated students and staff would still be required to wear masks.
Parents and guardians should note that separate from DESE’s mask mandate, under the Department of Public Health’s mask advisory, students riding any district bus or visiting any of the district’s health offices must continue to wear masks at all times while in these settings.