BROOKLINE - A growing number of Massachusetts school districts are suggesting, but not mandating that students put masks on, since COVID-19 numbers are climbing. "It's definitely a little confusing at times," said Emily Shang, a student at Brookline High School.
Brookline is joined by several districts, including Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, and Holliston, that have recently sent notices home to families suggesting they re-mask.
"It's a captive audience," said Brookline Health Director Sigalle Reiss, explaining why public officials focus on schools when COVID cases rise. "It's a large group of people in one building for a long period of time that, if we can add a protective strategy like masking, it can be very beneficial."
In Brookline, students say about half are back to wearing masks. They say most of the others recently had COVID.
"I know I can't get it. I know I can't spread it," said junior Charlie Perdue, who tested positive weeks ago. "If it comes to making people feel more comfortable, I'll do it, but in terms of spreading it and my own safety, it's not really a priority."
On Thursday, Massachusetts reported 13,380 students tested positive over the last week, an increase of about 5,000 cases from the previous week. There were 4,043 teachers who tested positive, an increase of about 1,400.
"Pandemics end. This one will end too. We're lucky to have tools," said Boston University School of Medicine Assistant Professor, Dr. Sabrina Assoumu, talking about tools like vaccinations, testing, and masking. "How fast are we going to get to the other side? It all depends on us. The sooner we use those tools, the sooner we get there."
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