- Executive Office of Education
- Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Media Contact for School Mask Requirement Extended
Colleen Quinn, Communications Director, Executive Office of Education
Malden — Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley notified school districts in the Commonwealth today that he will extend the mask requirement for all public K-12 students, educators, and staff through at least November 1. Middle and high schools with 80 percent of their students and staff vaccinated will have the option to lift the mandate by submitting an attestation form to the department on October 15.
If a school has already collected proof of vaccination and meets the 80 percent threshold, it may submit the attestation form before October 15 for consideration. Once a school completes the verification process, vaccinated students and staff will no longer be required to wear masks.
“Local school districts will have the option to remove masks for middle and high schools that reach this high vaccination rate among students and staff. We know some communities will want to submit verification quickly, and other communities might choose to continue their mask policies for now. This policy allows communities to make the decision at the local level,” said Education Secretary James Peyser.
“The best interest of students and staff as they return safely to full-time, in-person instruction this fall is at the forefront of my decision. Wearing masks is an important additional measure to keep students in school safely at this time.” said Education Commissioner Riley. “As health conditions evolve, we will continue to work with medical experts to find masking offramps for our youngest students who are not yet eligible for vaccines.”
In August, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave the commissioner the authority to require masks for public school staff and students (ages 5 and above) in all grades through at least October 1, 2021. The commissioner said he would revise the requirement as warranted by public health data.
The department today released a policy to districts on how to submit documentation once they reach the 80 percent vaccination threshold and school and district leaders decide to lift the mask requirement. The rate is to be calculated on a school-by-school basis, not at the district level, and must include all enrolled students in the building plus any staff regularly providing in-school services.
Schools should determine a confidential method to collect proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible staff and students, such as a COVID-19 vaccination record, a copy of a record card, a signed self-attestation completed by the vaccinated individual or parent/guardian, or a printout from the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MISS).
Unvaccinated students and staff would still be required to wear masks. The mandate includes exceptions for students who cannot wear a mask due to medical conditions or behavioral needs.
Mobile Vaccination Clinics
The Administration offers mobile pop-up vaccination clinics in community-based settings, including schools. The clinics are available to employers, schools and school districts, community organizations, and other groups. An organization can submit a request for mobile vaccination services here.
COVID-19 Testing in Schools
DESE and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services is providing screening and diagnostic testing at no cost to all public, private, and parochial schools as an additional mitigation strategy for COVID-19. Last year, the Administration launched the first-in-the nation pooled testing initiative in schools across the Commonwealth that found low positivity rates – far less than 1 percent – among students and staff. Diagnostic and routine (weekly) COVID-19 pooled testing services will be available at no cost to all schools through the end of the 2021-22 school year under a single contract with the testing provider CIC Health.