Students in Some Mass. School Districts Urged to Mask Up After Break

In several Massachusetts communities, including Boston, students are being encouraged to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for two weeks after the holiday break, but no mandate has been put in place

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Back to class means back to masks for some students and staff in Massachusetts.

In an effort to keep flu and COVID cases down, some school districts have asked students to mask up after returning from holiday break. The move is temporary and is only a suggestion, not a requirement.

Arlington, Boston, Newton and Watertown are among the school districts putting a temporary mask advisory in place. Students and staff are encouraged to wear masks for the first two weeks of the year.

In Arlington, the superintendent sent out a memo to parents explaining that the decision was not made lightly and that it comes after a number of absences due to illness before the break.

Jamie Gallow did not mind telling her son, Ronan, to wear a mask again.

"It's a huge disruption to us as parents if our kiddos get sick with COVID or something else, so we're just trying to be really safe," Gallow said.

Sarah Horsley's son will go back to class Wednesday, but she's part of a group of Boston Public Schools parents who say the mask recommendation does not go far enough.

"We're not so sure that an ask or an expectation, as they're wording it, is going to make a difference," Horlsey said.

The group, BPS Families for COVID Safety, is pushing for universal masking. They also want to see the return of pool testing.

"We think that would prevent transmission in a more effective way," Horsley said.

When asked if masks should come back to the classroom during NBC10 Boston's weekly COVID Q&A series, doctors came out on both sides.

"We may not all agree on this, but I think it's a good idea," Dr. David Hamer of Boston Medical Center said.

"To me, it doesn't make sense to talk about mask mandates in just school when we aren't talking about them in crowded arenas, bars and nightclubs," said Dr. Shira Doron of Tufts Medical Center.

So far, no school districts are mandating the masks. Watertown has said its advisory will be in place until the cases go down.

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