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Boston Public Schools ends mask mandate

Students from John D. O'Bryant School of Math & Science and Madison Park High School walk to the T and buses on Tremont Street.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Boston Public Schools will end its mask mandate starting Monday, according to a letter sent out by Superintendent Brenda Cassellius Wednesday afternoon.

BPS was among the last remaining districts across the state that kept a mask mandate in place after the state in February lifted its requirement that masks be worn in school, leaving the decision to local leaders.

The Boston Public Health Commission advised the removal of masks, Cassellius said, after a recent decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and fewer traces of the virus showing up in the city’s wastewater.

Last week the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education also reported a statewide decline in positive coronavirus cases in Massachusetts schools for a second consecutive week, with 6,106 new cases among students and 1,941 among staff.


In her letter, Cassellius wrote that “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.”

The health commission still advised the district require masks indoors under certain circumstances: in school health offices, for students and staff diagnosed with COVID-19 but return to school before the end of their 10 day isolation period, for students and staff who are identified as part of an in-school transmission cluster or in a cluster being investigated, and for students and staff who are experiencing COVID symptoms while in school.

“I’m grateful to BPHC and BPS for diligent action and unwavering focus on the health and well-being of our students and their families throughout the challenges of the pandemic,” Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement. “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. As we move to mask-optional for the end of the school year and into summer school, we will continue taking a tailored approach to masking based on careful monitoring of COVID wastewater data and other metrics.”


Last month, State Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced the state is ending its test-and-stay program, and no longer will supply self-tests or other COVID testing services to schools starting this fall.

DESE, the Department of Early Education and Care, and the Department of Public Health also updated the isolation and quarantine guidance for children in child care centers and other educational settings last month so that asymptomatic and unvaccinated children who’ve been exposed to COVID-19 are no longer required to quarantine.

Parents had mixed reactions to the BPS announcement, with some celebrating the news and others disappointed with the decision and how it was delivered. One parent tweeted that the announcement being made within minutes after the sign up for public comment at Wednesday night’s School Committee closed was “simply [unprintable] up.” Another parent gave the decision a thumbs down while pointing out Boston has a positivity rate over 8 percent, and asked Cassellius “why now just for 11 days?” before students are released for the summer.

Adria Watson can be reached at adria.watson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @adriarwatson.