BPS mulling temporary mask mandate following holiday break

COVID

Superintendent Mary Skipper said families would be informed of any COVID protocol changes by the end of the week.

A stack of N-95 masks. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Boston Public Schools is considering possible changes to its COVID protocols in the new year, including a possible temporary mask mandate.

In a letter to families Thursday, Superintendent Mary Skipper shared her gratitude for students, families, educators, and staff ahead of the break while wishing everyone “a safe, healthy and peaceful holiday season.”

She noted that officials would continue their communications with the Boston Public Health Commission “to discuss any possible changes to our COVID protocols.”

The message, which was posted to the district Facebook page, did not include any mention of a potential mask mandate, but a letter to families that night reportedly noted that a temporary mask mandate for the first two weeks following the break was under consideration.

“Based on last year’s experience with a significant surge in COVID and its impact on staffing shortages and student absences, we know this temporary policy change may help mitigate any concerns as we return from winter break,” Skipper wrote, according to The Boston Globe.

“We will let you know about any changes to our protocols at the latest by the end of next week,” Skipper said in the message posted to Facebook. “This will ensure that we are using the most up-to-date data when making any decisions.”

On Friday, the Boston Public Health Commission advised all community members to “take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the flu, and other transmissible illnesses during their holiday celebrations.”

COVID levels in local wastewater samples have been high, the commission noted.

Additionally, “COVID-19 cases diagnosed via PCR are up by 11% over the past two weeks, and hospitalizations have increased 31% over the past week and 72% over the past two weeks,” BPHC said.

The commission, in partnership with the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, has several pop-up clinics offering free COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and boosters, and flu vaccines around the city.

As part of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Vaccine Equity Initiative, residents can earn a $75 gift card in exchange for getting a COVID-19 vaccine or booster while supplies last. Learn more including where to find clinics around Boston over the next week at boston.gov.

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