Face coverings in school are a hot-button issue as Massachusetts school districts grapple with tough decisions.
“We’re at restaurants now without masks so I feel like kids should definitely be able to breathe freely and be like normal kids again,” said Milford parent Emily Rhames.
Some school districts like Boston have already decided that masks will be required in class when school starts up again.
Others, like Milford, haven’t yet made the final call but parents in the district have been told at the very least masks will be required on the school bus and in the nurse’s office.
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“I think having kids be masked is really putting the onus and bearing the burden of COVID on our kids,” said Deanna Simonds of Milford Parents for School.
The group is pushing for masks to be optional and up to parents and students to make the decision.
“They’re growing and they need to see each other and have a normal interaction,” said group member Danielle Albano.
A professor at the College of Nursing at UMass-Boston says she understands the pushback from parents, but believes masks for all students in school is still critical.
“As a nurse and scientist I go with the data,” said Laura Hayman. “I think masks are critically important in preventing transmission of the highly transmissible new variant delta and others to follow.”
Gov. Charlie Baker has said the state is recommending that students in Kindergarten through sixth grade wear masks, although there is an effort in the state legislature to require universal masking in school.
Hayman has this message for parents: "Get vaccinated, send your child to school, advocate for the use of masks within the school.”