New York State In-depth

Chelsea reintroduce mask requirements for schools


“The safety of our community is our top priority.”

David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe, file

Chelsea Public Schools are reintroducing their mask mandate this week. Officials said a move was in response to Suffolk County being classified as “high risk” for transmission of COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In recent weeks, several local school districts have strongly recommended, but not mandated, that students and staff wear masks in response to rising case numbers and returns to classes after holiday gatherings and travel.

Masks will be required to be worn in Chelsea public school buildings at all times from Monday, “except when eating and drinking,” Superintendent Almi Abeyta wrote in a message to families on Friday.

“We will continue to monitor the data regularly and follow CDC recommendations should risk levels change,” she wrote. “The safety of our community is our top priority.”

UMass Boston is also requiring masks starting Monday in response to rising COVID-19 rates.

The CDC’s “high risk” rating for transmission of COVID-19 includes the federal agency’s recommendation that masks be worn in indoor public places and on public transportation. The CDC also recommends getting tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms.

Franklin, Worcester, Middlesex, Norfolk, Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, Nantucket and Dukes counties are listed as High Risk by the CDC.

Previously, the Chelsea School Committee voted to lift its mask requirement in April 2022, provided the CDC’s recommendations for Suffolk County’s risk levels did not change.

Alarm over the rising number of cases in recent weeks has also been raised in neighboring Boston, where Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, commissioner of public health and executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, last week urged residents to take protective measures, such as Tests and, above all, vaccinations against the respiratory disease.

“Based on the trends, it is imperative that we all protect ourselves and others,” Ojikutu said in a statement. “I understand there is a very high level of pandemic fatigue, but the numbers speak for themselves. We should all mask indoors, stay home if sick, and test for COVID-19.”

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