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Newton Public Schools urge students, staff to wear masks for first two weeks of January classes

Newton Public Schools students and staff are being urged to wear masks for the first two weeks of January classes to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases, school leaders said in a statement sent out before classes resumed Tuesday following the holiday break.

The request comes amid rising absences in Newton’s schools among students and staff due to cases of coronavirus, along with flu and respiratory syncytial virus, according to the statement.

Newton Public Schools is among the largest school districts in the state, with nearly 12,000 students and roughly 2,500 workers, including teachers and support staff.

Newton school officials made the decision to “strongly recommend” masking in consultation with the city’s Health and Human Services Department.

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“This recommendation is made in an effort to keep our students in school learning and to keep our classrooms and buildings operating with safe and appropriate staffing,” the schools said in a statement.

School officials asked parents to keep their children at home if they are sick.

They also asked people to practice good hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their elbow, not their hands; wearing a mask; and avoiding exposure to people who are ill.

The schools also will continue their practice of cleaning “high-touch” surfaces in buildings.

“Disinfecting high-touch surfaces like doorknobs is crucial to prevent illness,” the statement said.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.