Supt. Brenda Cassellius announced in a letter to parents on Wednesday afternoon that the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) had advised that masks no longer need to be required in Boston Public School (BPS) buildings starting on Monday, June 13.
The City of Boston lifted its general indoor mask mandate on March 5.
The move comes with public schools being one of the last bastions of mask requirements, though many indoor locations in Boston strongly suggest people continue to wear a mask. BPS ends its current school term on June 27, though graduating seniors will be done with school next week.
“The BPHC has advised that beginning on Monday, June 13, masks no longer be required in BPS buildings,” wrote Cassellius. “Indoor mask use is strongly recommended among adults and children who are not fully vaccinated and those who have or live with individuals with medical conditions that place them at higher risk for severe COVID-19 disease.”
She explained the decision comes as COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations have been on a sustained downward trend in Boston, and the fact that viral wastewater concentrations have stabilized. Masks will remain optional for students who want to continue wearing them, she said.
“While masks will no longer be required, they remain optional for students or staff who would like to wear them,” read the letter. “Masking is an important tool, and students, guardians and staff who choose to mask will be supported in that choice.”
Cassellius also lauded students, administrators, families, and staff for going above the call of duty in making sure schools are safe and healthy.
“The data show that Boston had the lowest case rates among neighboring school districts while its policy of required masking in schools was in place which preserved valuable, needed learning time,” she wrote. “We will continue to provide access to vaccinations for students across the district.”
BPS was one of the last youth organizations to require masks in buildings, with organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester dropping its mandate several months ago, making masking optional. The City of Boston dropped its indoor mask mandate on Saturday, March 5. Restaurants, offices, gyms, churches, and other indoor facilities were able to remove the mandate in their buildings at that time.
Coming off the 2020-21 fully remote school year at BPS, most students have had to abide by the masking requirement in schools for an entire school year.
Cassellius noted there are some exceptions to the lifted mask mandate, including:
•Students and staff who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are returning to school before a full 10 days of isolation, must mask for the remaining days. Example: A Student comes back to school on Day 6 because they have a negative COVID test, the student should be masked for Day 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.
•Students and staff who are identified as part of a cluster with in-school transmission, or while a potential cluster within the cohort is being investigated, for a duration of time as determined in consultation with BPHC.
•Students and staff who are identified as experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 while in school, including students who are identified as having possible symptoms of COVID-19 and are awaiting pick-up from school by parents or caregivers.
•Masking will continue to be required in school health offices.