The mask mandate for most Massachusetts public schools has been extended into January, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Tuesday.
The requirement for K-12 public schools will now last until at least Jan. 15, 2022. The deadline has previously been pushed back, after the mandate was issued in August.
Under the mandate, students in public schools age 5 and older, as well as all public school staff and visitors, must wear masks indoors. Children under 5 are also recommended to wear masks. Anyone who has a medical reason is exempted from the mask requirement, along with students with behavioral issues that prevent them from wearing masks, and face shields may be an alternative.
"Masks remain a simple and effective measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep students in school safely," Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said in a statement. "Together with the Test and Stay program, high vaccination rates, low transmission rates in schools and all the hard work in keeping our students safe, our kids are able to stay in school where they belong and can flourish."
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A few schools have so far met the 80% vaccination requirement that enables local authorities to lift the mask mandate inside.
Gov. Charlie Baker had deferred when asked last week if the school mask mandate should again be extended past its most recent end date, Nov. 1, telling reporters, "We'll talk to you about that when we get toward the end of the month."