Thousands of parents are calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to relax the mask mandate for children in Massachusetts.
In a letter Thursday to the governor, a grassroots group of approximately 5,000 parents said children should be allowed to ditch the masks for outdoor sports, summer camps and recess, even if they can't stay six feet apart.
“I haven’t seen the letter, but obviously we check out the stuff from folks we get regularly and we have made adjustments all the way through this program, up and down," Baker responded.
The group, called Bring Kids Back MA, is also asking Baker to once again allow children to share items like library books, classroom materials and art supplies, citing low risk of surface transmission.
The parents argue that Massachusetts should follow neighboring states and the World Health Organization, which suggests children should not wear a mask when playing sports or doing physical activities.
“There is simply no compelling scientific rationale supporting the additional restrictions on the youngest citizens of our state," parents wrote in the letter.
Baker said he would take a look at the letter. He added that if the state needs to make a change, it will.
The group was thrilled that NBC10 Boston brought the issue to Baker.
"I think its just time for them to get some of their life back and give them joy in being able to run around outside before we get into the heat of summer," said Bring Back Kids MA member Antigone Grasso.
Public health experts we spoke to are divided on the issue.
"I think they should keep their masks on because those are still high risk situations," said Dr. Christine Hermos, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at UMass Memorial Health Care.
"I think they’re being cautious, perhaps overly cautious," said Dr. David Hamer, who teaches infectious diseases at Boston University School of Public Health and School.
Massachusetts K-12 students were able to return to full-time in-person learning last month.
Baker lifted the state's outdoor mask mandate last week. Other COVID-related business restrictions will relax beginning May 10 and all business restrictions are slated to lift and industries to reopen by Aug. 1 as part of a series of reopening measures aimed at stimulating the state's economy.
Baker has said Massachusetts could reopen sooner if the current vaccination rate continues.
With northeast states like New York and New Jersey set to fully lift COVID-19 restrictions later this month, Baker was asked again Thursday if there's any chance Massachusetts will accelerate its reopening plans. The governor said he would make adjustments if he sees "significant progress in the data" over the course of the next month.