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Mass. Extends School Mask Mandate; Some Middle And High Schools Can Opt Out Mid-October

BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts is extending the school mask requirement through at least November 1, the state's education department announced Monday afternoon.

All Massachusetts public schools students and staff have been required to wear masks inside school buildings since the start of the school year earlier this month.

Under the original mandate, on Friday, October 1, schools that have 80 percent or more of their students and staff fully vaccinated were going to be allowed to drop the mandate for vaccinated people only.

That has been changed.

The state now says middle and high schools with 80 percent of their students and staff vaccinated will have the option to lift the mandate "by submitting an attestation form to the department on October 15."

Once a school completes the verification process, vaccinated students and staff will no longer be required to wear masks. However, unvaccinated students and staff will still be required to wear a mask.

The rate will be calculated on a school-by-school basis, not at the district level. The state said it must include all enrolled students in the building plus any regular in-school staff.

"Local school districts will have the option to remove masks for middle and high schools that reach this high vaccination rate among students and staff. We know some communities will want to submit verification quickly, and other communities might choose to continue their mask policies for now. This policy allows communities to make the decision at the local level," Education Secretary James Peyser said in a statement.

"As health conditions evolve, we will continue to work with medical experts to find masking offramps for our youngest students who are not yet eligible for vaccines," said Education Commissioner Jeff Riley.

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