As coronavirus cases continue to rise in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker said Monday his administration does not plan to order schools closed because research has shown that academic buildings have not been super-spreading locations for the coronavirus.
He even questioned whether closing schools in the spring was the right choice.
“Schools need to stay open, and that’s not just true here. I mean you look around the world. Everybody’s concluded that closing schools last spring was probably a bad idea, OK?” Baker said during a press conference at the State House on Monday. “And the basic message that’s coming out from most people this time is schools aren’t spreaders and it’s hugely important for the educational and social development of kids and the psychological development of kids that they be in school.”
His comments came Monday as he announced a slew of new measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus in Massachusetts. Starting at at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, gyms, theaters, and casinos will be ordered to close by 9:30 p.m., and restaurants will have to stop table service by the same time. Indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people.
Baker also launched a new stay-at-home advisory that asks people to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., except for essential activities, and he tightened the state’s mask mandate, now requiring people to wear masks in public, regardless of how far they are from others.
Baker pleaded with Massachusetts residents to “do our jobs” to stop the spread of the coronavirus and make the necessary sacrifices to keep the economy running and schools open.
“Schools should stay open. Play by the rules. Follow the guidance,” he said.
As of Oct. 28, local officials have reported a total of 589 cases among public school students and 318 among staff members to the state this academic year. Education officials have said they’re not aware of any coronavirus transmission happening within school buildings.
“We learned a lot since the beginning of this pandemic ten months ago,” Baker said. “We know schools, even in areas where transmission rates are high, can safely teach kids in person, and we must do everything in our power to ensure that children, especially those coming from families with low income and at risk-communities, have a safe, nurturing place that they can learn.”