coronavirus

Worcester Health Officials Vote Unanimously to End School Mask Requirement

The most recent data shows around 79% of those ages 12-19 in Worcester have at least one dose of the vaccine

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The Worcester Board of Health voted unanimously Monday night to lift the mask mandate in the city's schools.

At the end of February, the School Committee voted to remove the mask requirement contingent on the Board of Health's signs off. The new policy goes into effect immediately.

According to the Worcester Telegram, officials had been concerned about making sure students who want to wear masks still feel comfortable doing so since more than half of Worcester students have more than one health condition.

The most recent data shows around 79% of those ages 12-19 in Worcester have at least one dose of the vaccine. The vaccination rate drops to 46% for children ages 5 -11. Those numbers are an important factor for officials deciding whether the masks will come off, including Dr. Matilde Castiel, Commissioner of Worcester's Health and Human Services Department.

"Honestly, I'd like to wait to see what happens after winter break. That's my main concern," Castiel said. "We still have a low vaccination rate, and that would be just real cautious to be able to do that. I understand that, I think it's time to take our masks off, but again our vaccination rates are low there."

The city recently ended its mask requirement for businesses, which took effect Feb. 18.

The citywide mask requirement in Worcester businesses will be lifted Feb. 18.
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