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Many Massachusetts Schools Return From February Break With No Mask Mandate

BROCKTON (CBS) – For the first time in months, students in most school districts did not need to wear a mask when they returned to the classroom Monday following school vacation week.

Earlier this month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the state would end its mask mandate for K-12 schools. This change gave the power to individual cities and towns to decide how they would move forward starting February 28.

"I think it is time to see the masks come off and for us to see the smiling faces of our kids," Brockton Superintendent Mike Thomas told WBZ-TV.

He said he was pleased to back the measure to remove their school mask mandate.

Brockton is just one of several districts that are making the change. Many school systems cite plummeting COVID cases and spread within their area.

Some parents told WBZ they are hesitant about the masking changes.

"I'm not sure if it's 100% percent safe," said one parent.

Ketsia Chery has a daughter in a Brockton middle school who said she will continue to wear her mask.

"I don't think it's safe at all," said Chery. "Even though the virus is going down, it is still unsafe for the kids because you never know. You might think everything is okay and then one kid comes to the classroom then your kid gets sick and infected."

Doctor Shira Doron, an epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, said the data statewide supports the masking changes.

"We are at a point in the pandemic where removing mandates is warranted," Doron said. "What we said from the beginning was when we have vaccines and treatments we will lift all restrictions," said Dr. Doron. "We can't just say that. We have to do it."

There are some districts, including Boston, that have not announced plans to repeal the mask mandate for schools. Other school districts doing the same cited concerns over students returning from traveling following vacation week.

"Everywhere in the country, no matter where you went, is seeing the same big drop in cases," Dr. Doron said. "So, I don't think we are going to see a big spike in cases."

Joseph Case High School in Swansea celebrated the move to go mask optional with a parody of the song "Tomorrow" from Annie.

"Tomorrow, tomorrow, we've options tomorrow. Our faces are here to stay," Case High's Principal Brian McCann can be seen singing to the tune of the song. The video was posted on the school's YouTube page.

"Literally, this is the first time I am seeing some students ever, fully," McCann said, "One senior said to me, she said, 'It is so nice to see your beautiful face again.' I was like, 'Well thank you. Nice to see your beautiful face as well again.'"

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