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'I Do Not Think That's Fair': Schools With High Vaccination Rates Can Lift Mask Mandate In October

BILLERICA (CBS) - It's official. Effective Wednesday, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says students five and older are required to wear masks when inside at school.

There's also an incentive for more students to get vaccinated. "I'm hoping we'll be able to take it off, if we're all safe and ready for it," said Lexington High student Avery Cattier. In Lexington, more than 95% of teenagers have been vaccinated for COVID-19. "The second it was available, I took action," said Cattier.

State education officials just voted in a policy allowing vaccinated students to take masks off after October 1, only at schools with rates of at least 80%. "I do feel fortunate that most people have decided to get vaccinated," said Cattier.

But 10 miles north in Billerica, it's a different story. Masks are expected to stick around longer, because COVID vaccination rates among teens there are lower. Only 36% of 12- to 15-year-olds have had both shots. The rate is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds at 61%, but that's still a long way from what's required for masks to come off.

Some say tying masks to vaccination rates unfairly burdens students in certain towns. "I do not think that's fair," said a Billerica resident who would only share his first name, Lou. "To me, young people, I don't think they should worry about the virus itself," he said.

CLICK HERE to check the vaccination rates among teenagers in your school district.

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