Superintendent Michael S. Nelson and the Old Rochester Regional School District and MA Superintendency Union #55 would like to share an update regarding the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) proposed mask mandate for the 2021-22 school year.
This week, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education met and voted to give DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley the authority to institute a mask mandate for the beginning of the upcoming school year. The mask mandate is expected to be formally issued later this week by Commissioner Riley.
With the issuance of the proposed mask mandate, all K-12 students, educators, and staff would be required to wear a mask while in schools through October 1 to ensure schools fully reopen safely and to provide ample time for more students and educators to get vaccinated.
After October 1, the policy would 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. Additional information regarding masking policies would then be shared by individual districts.
Community members should also note that under the DPH’s mask advisory, masks are mandatory for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, while using public transportation and rideshares, and while inside healthcare facilities and other settings. As a result, 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.
“We will continue to do everything we can to ensure students and staff are able to learn and work safely in our buildings, and this will include adhering to the expected mask mandate once it is issued,” Superintendent Nelson said. “As always, we are carefully monitoring state and local public health guidance and will continue to keep families informed regarding DESE guidance as well as any decisions made at the district level.”