State public health officials said Tuesday that Massachusetts children no longer have to wear masks on school buses, the latest in a series of COVID-19 restrictions that have eased as the Omicron surge recedes.
Public school districts, however, can maintain mask requirements if they choose, said Thomas A. Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. Schools in Boston, for example, will not lift the mandate for the time being, a spokesperson said.
“Masking decisions are made by individual districts per the DESE memo,” said Boston schools spokesperson Sharra A. Gaston, referring to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The state’s public health department said that effective Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had “updated its guidance on mask-wearing and announced that it is no longer requiring that masks be worn on school buses or vans for K-12 and child care programs and public outdoors at transportation settings.”
In an advisory, the agency urged “all eligible residents to get vaccinated and stay up to date on COVID vaccinations including when eligible for booster doses. Vaccination remains the most effective protection against serious illness, hospitalization, and death.”
The advisory stressed that all people, regardless of vaccination status, must “continue wearing face coverings in certain settings, including some transportation and health care facilities.”
The public health department said the advisory could change “based on public health data and further guidance from the CDC.”
Most school districts in Massachusetts lifted their mask mandates for their buildings on Feb. 28. Earlier in the month, Governor Charlie Baker’s administration announced that a statewide mask mandate in schools would be lifted on that date.