Boston Public Schools ask students, staff to wear masks on return from holiday break
BOSTON - Boston Public Schools will have a "temporary masking" period for students and staff when they return from the holiday break next week, but it is not mandatory.
In a letter issued to families and staff Friday, Superintendent Mary Skipper said no one would be punished for not wearing a mask. Teachers return Tuesday and students go back to class Wednesday.
"To maximize our ability to keep students healthy and minimize staff absences during this high-risk period, all BPS schools will adopt temporary masking from Wednesday, January 4th, through Friday, January 13th, 2023, a total of eight school days," Skipper wrote.
"Employees returning to BPS on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023 are asked and expected to begin masking on that day. This is our ask and expectation of students and staff, not a mandate-which will be in effect during the school day on school premises and school buses. BPS will provide disposable face masks to students or staff who need them. No one will be disciplined or sent home if they
refuse to wear a mask. Masks will be available for student athletes at practices and games, but not expected."
Boston has had a collision of flu, COVID, and RSV cases in recent weeks. Skipper said there has been a "significant increase in pediatric hospitalizations" because of all three.
The COVID surge following winter break last January took a toll on Boston schools with more than 1,000 daily absences among teachers and staff in the city. The superintendent at the time, Brenda Cassellius, said the district was "running on fumes" trying to navigate the staffing and safety issues. Cassellius filled in one day as a fourth-grade teacher during the shortage.
"Our goal with temporary masking is to mitigate and prevent an even bigger surge that would result in overwhelming student and staff absences this January," Skipper wrote.
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