Masks Recommended For Younger Students In State's Schools

BOSTON (AP) — Students from kindergarten through sixth grade, most of whom are not eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine, should wear masks indoors when schools reopen this fall, according to recommendations released Friday by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Older students who are not yet vaccinated, as well as unvaccinated teachers and staffers, should also wear masks indoors, the department said in guidance developed in conjunction with the state Department of Public Health.

Indoor masking is not required for medical or behavioral reasons.

“Masks are not necessary outdoors and may be removed while eating indoors," the agency said.

The agency also said it recommends “that schools allow vaccinated students to remain unmasked."

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, is still required to wear a face covering while on a school buses, per federal regulations.

The updated guidance comes the same week the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all students, educators, staff members, and visitors wear masks in K-12 schools this fall, regardless of vaccination status.

The department also urged all school districts and schools to maintain or establish a robust COVID-19 testing plan in the fall, and to set up on-site vaccination clinics during summer orientation events or at the start of the academic year.

A parents group called Bring Kids Back MA in a statement Friday argued against mask requirements or any other COVID-19 restrictions, citing the state's high vaccination rate.

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HEALTH DEPARTMENT RECOMMENDATIONS

People fully vaccinated against the coronavirus should still wear a face covering indoors if they have a weakened immune system or an underlying medical condition, under new guidance released Friday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The guidance is line with federal recommendations announced this week in response to the recent spread of the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19, the agency said in a statement.

The guidance also applies to people who live with someone with a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.

“All people in Massachusetts (regardless of vaccination status) are required to continue wearing face coverings in certain settings, including transportation and health care facilities," the agency said.