Mandate Extended Through Jan. 15, 2022
MATTAPOISETT — Superintendent Michael S. Nelson would like to share an update regarding the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) mask mandate for the current school year.
On Tuesday, Oct. 26, after consulting with medical experts and state health officials, DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced that the state will extend the school mask mandate through at least Jan. 15, 2022. The original mask mandate for the current academic year — issued Aug. 25 — had previously been extended from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1.
Under the state’s mask mandate, all K-12 students, educators and staff are required to wear a mask while in schools through at least Jan. 15, 2022. This extension will continue to ensure the health and safety of students and staff, and provide time for more students and educators to get vaccinated, including children who may become eligible to receive the vaccine in the coming weeks. School visitors will continue to be required to wear masks during this time.
The 80% vaccination threshold protocol, which went into effect Oct. 15, remains in place. Under this protocol, if a school demonstrates a vaccination rate of 80% or more of all students and staff, then vaccinated individuals in that school would no longer be subject to the mask requirement. In alignment with statewide guidance, unvaccinated students and staff would be required to continue wearing masks.
Whether or not a school or district fulfills the 80% vaccination designation is a local decision to be made by school and district leaders in consultation with local health officials. District and school administrators will work with their respective school committees to determine whether this threshold is met and will share updates with the school community accordingly.
According to DESE, masks may be removed indoors or other mitigation strategies may be put into place when necessary for students to participate in elective classes, such as band. Additionally, masks are required for any sports-related activity for student-athletes and coaches when indoors, in alignment with guidance provided by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).
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.