What Updated Mask Guidance Means for Mass. Schools

Students in Massachusetts will have to continue wearing masks in the classroom for the rest of the school year, but what happens on the playground outside is a different story

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Massachusetts will no longer have a mask mandate as of May 29, but children will have to continue wearing facial coverings in classrooms for the rest of the school year.

What happens on the playground outside is a different story, as a small number of communities continue to require facial coverings at recess.



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"My kids haven't been sick, like all year, because they've been wearing a mask," said Eileen Woodward, a Needham mother of four. "We're trying to take a slower pace. We're trying to make sure it's OK."

Starting Tuesday, kids no longer have to wear facial coverings for outdoor activities like sports and recess. Still, some towns like Needham and Medford continue to mandate masks at recess as they consider the science and their own options.

The state commissioner of education says he understands some communities may want to take a more cautious approach than the minimum standards recommended by state.

"We think districts should follow our guidance," said Commissioner Jeffrey Riley. "Districts have some latitude to go above and beyond those standards as long as it doesn't impact a child's ability to access in-person learning."

Most cities and towns are embracing the relaxed rules, a welcome change for many.

"I think it's a pretty good idea. I get to see all my friends faces again when I go to school," said 12-year-old Eric Crestwood.

Needham's superintendent will ask the school committee to reconsider its mask policy. He says any changes wouldn't occur until later in the week.

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