STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
TWO EAST COAST states on Monday attached end dates to their school mask mandates, spelling out timelines that Gov. Charlie Baker described as “pretty consistent” with Massachusetts policy.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education rule requiring students and teachers in most K-12 schools to wear masks indoors is in place through at least February 28. Originally imposed in August, the mandate has been extended three times and the department has generally announced the extensions the week before the expiration date.
On Monday, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed an order lifting his state’s universal indoor mask mandate on Feb. 11, and announced that the school mask mandate there would expire on March 31. In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy cited continued growth in youth vaccination rates and a drop in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as he announced masks would no longer be required in Garden State schools as of March 7.
As far as Massachusetts, Baker said the school mask mandate remains in effect until the end of the month “and it’s anticipated, obviously, that at some point in the not-too-distant future the commissioner [of elementary and secondary education, Jeff Riley] will have more to say about that.”
He said it has been the education department’s practice to “put a marker out there” and then make a decision based on the data at that point.
“Obviously every state is different with respect to where they are on COVID and these issues generally,” Baker said. “I do think the dates that both Delaware and New Jersey are talking about are pretty consistent with that February 28th date.”