Coronavirus

Sununu Says No Plans for COVID Restrictions, Mask Mandate Despite Increase in NH Cases

The number of people testing positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic surpassed 100,000 in New Hampshire earlier this week

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There will be no statewide mask mandates or COVID-19 guidelines for kids heading back to school in New Hampshire this fall.

Gov. Chris Sununu says even the CDC guidelines are a bit too severe for the Granite State right now.

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"At this point, there is no need for students to be wearing masks. The numbers are just that low," Sununu said in an interview on Friday.

He says each district should decide what's best for their students based on transmission rates.

"Understanding what happens in Berlin, New Hampshire, might be very different than what happens in Portsmouth or Manchester," Sununu said.

The governor says with the availability of the vaccine, he is hoping masks are a thing of the past for our children.

"It's important to be back in a normal atmosphere, so kids, especially young kids, can see their teacher's mouth, can interact in the right way, don't feel the restrictions or under any constraints of wearing a mask for eight hours a day," he said. "That's a lot to ask any kid, and God bless them, they did a phenomenal job last year."

Megan Tuttle, president of NEA-NH, the state's largest teachers union, says her organization is glad to see the governor's hands-off approach heading into the fall.

"Leave it to the administrators and the educators who made all the decisions last year, and we were able to go back to school," Tuttle said.

Without statewide mandates in New Hampshire or Massachusetts, many school districts will rely on recommendations from federal health officials, but Sununu pushed back against using those guidelines in the Granite State.

"The CDC and pediatric groups are telling that all kids have to wear masks," he said. "We're not at that place here in New Hampshire. We're really not."

Tuttle says a lot could still change with five weeks to go until the first day of school.

"It's a tough thing to say, because we know that masks work. We really do," she said.

While there has been no surge in the region just yet, the governor says he is concerned about the delta variant. But he says the best protection out there is the vaccine, which is readily available for anyone who wants it.

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