Mask mandate extended to November 1


Christian Buonopane, Writer


Recently, Massachusetts extended the mask mandate in schools to November 1st, 2021. Originally, this mandate would have ended on October 1st, 2021, given that 80% of the students and staff would be vaccinated. The commissioner of elementary and secondary education in Massachusetts, Jeffrey Riley,  announced this news a little over a week ago on September 27th, close to the original last planned date of the mask mandate. Should Winthrop High School reach the 80% vaccination rate by November 1st, any students and staff who are not vaccinated will still be required to wear a mask.

Many public officials across the state have expressed differing opinions regarding the matter. Clinton Schools Superintendent Steven Myer remained optimistic in a statement to the Telegram Gazette,  stating that “I think most of the staff are vaccinated, and I think a lot of students are.” Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo conceded that regardless of the mandate ending on October 1st, a city-wide mask mandate in schools would likely last far past the original October 1st mandate. On the contrary, the former Camden Schools Superintendent and Massachusetts Board of Education member said that the public policy regarding to vaccination rates was crucial, “When this all started, it was about flattening the curve, and the curve, you may recall, was about hospitalization rate and count, and all of a sudden, we’re now focused on case count.” In short, we have changed our focus too much, in accordance with his statement from NBC 10 Boston.

With this being said, will Winthrop High School be ready? The answer: Likely not by November 1st. According to estimates by many people, Winthrop High has an average vaccination rate of 55-65%, which is still significantly shy of the needed 80%. It is unknown at this time whether the Town Council or School Committee will vote to extend the mask mandate past any given deadline even if the 80% threshold is reached.

Remember, as more people get the vaccine, the sooner we can go maskless. In terms of getting access to the vaccine, students should know that CVS on Woodside Ave is currently offering free Covid-19 vaccines, and free booster shots. However, if you have any other concerns, always check out the CDC website for the most up-to-date information on the virus to do your part in stopping the spread.