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Massachusetts Dropping Statewide K-12 Mask Mandate On February 28

Authorities in Massachusetts announced on Wednesday that that the Bay State will be dropping its mask mandate for students in K-12 public education starting February 28. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. While the statewide mandate is lifted, local districts will still be allowed to require masking.

“With Massachusetts a national leader in vaccinating kids, combined with our robust testing programs, it is time to lift the mask mandate in schools and give students and staff a sense of normalcy after dealing with enormous challenges over the past two years,” Governor Charlie Baker (R) said Wednesday at a press conference. “We have all the tools to keep schools safe as we move into dealing with the next phase of managing COVID.”

“Given the low extremely low risk for young people, the widespread availability and the proven effectiveness of vaccines and the distribution of accurate test protocols and tests, it is time to give our kids a sense of normalcy and lift the mask mandate on a statewide basis for schools,” Baker added.

“The reason we are taking the mask mandate off is we do believe between our testing infrastructure, our vaccination programs, our data and the guidance we’ve gotten from a lot of people we’ve talked to in the public health community is there is a consequence at this point for keeping kids in masks, and we think we should move beyond that,” Baker added.

In response to the governor’s statement, Boston radio legend and political commentator Gerry Callahan blasted the Republican governor for masking  children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There was NEVER a time to force our kids into masks and he knows it,” Callahan tweeted. “As always, he bent to the political whims of the moment and just hoped Linda Pizzuti would blow him a kiss. He is the definition of political cowardice.”

Callahan also wondered why kids couldn’t ditch the face-coverings right now.

“Did anyone ask @MassGovernor why kids have to continue to wear masks for three more weeks? Why Feb 28 and not right friggin now? As always I’m sure there’s lots of science behind his decision,” the host of The Gerry Callahan podcast added.

 

The announcement Wednesday is just the latest shift in governance and health guidance from the liberal Northeast state.

In late January, Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Education Secretary James Peyser also penned a letter to universities in the Commonwealth, saying that the pandemic is now “endemic” and cannot be exacerbated by the “twindemic” of isolation.

“Early in the pandemic, we made trade-offs, and veered on the side of remote learning and isolation. Overly strict protocols that inhibit any level of social interaction are counterproductive, at this time. Now is the time to reconsider these protocols to help promote a return to healthy social interactions, including: remote learning; restricting or discouraging group activities; overly aggressive surveillance testing; and mask type requirements,” the secretaries wrote.

“Colleges and universities should accelerate their efforts to transition back to ‘near normal’ conditions, which include focusing on individuals who manifest COVID symptoms and test positive for COVID, and especially those who are particularly at-risk for serious illness and hospitalization,” they added.

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