Massachusetts students will still be required to wear masks in summer school programs in the coming months, the Baker administration clarified on Friday after Gov. Charlie Baker said he does not believe that practice is necessary.
In a Friday event that governor's office livestreamed, Baker said the 2021-2022 academic year that starts in the fall should be "business as usual" after a year and a half of disruption ranging from online learning to mandatory distancing in classrooms. He also said officials "don't think kids need to be wearing masks in summer school."
Baker's office later said that despite the governor's remark, students will in fact need to cover their faces indoors and on school buses under the most recent Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidance.
When it announced on May 27 that all health and safety requirements would be lifted for the start of the 2021-2022 academic year, DESE told districts it will "not issue separate guidance for summer school programs" and that schools "are encouraged to follow the health and safety guidance from DESE currently in place for in-person learning this spring."
The May 27 guidance says educators who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks, but students are required to wear masks indoors and on buses unless they receive a medical or behavior exemption.
All K-12 schools will be required to bring students back to full-time, in-person learning starting in the fall.
"The data at this point is coming back to us and it's overwhelmingly clear that COVID in schools, going forward, should not be an issue. It's always possible something could happen, and if it does, we'll make adjustments," Baker said. "But I think our message to people at this point is: school should look a lot more like it did before the pandemic."