Masks Will Be Mandatory This Fall Inside Springfield Schools
When public schools open in Springfield, Massachusetts, later this month, students, teachers and staff will be required to wear masks. The announcement comes as COVID-19 rates continue to rise in the city.
Masks will also be mandatory while on school buses. Exemptions will be in place for religious reasons and documented medical conditions.
Springfield's policy is in line with Centers for Disease Control recommendations — and is now more stringent than guidance released last week by state education officials.
Mayor Domenic Sarno said during a City Hall briefing Tuesday that it's important for students to get back to in-person learning, but also to do it safely.
"We want to go above and beyond," Sarno said. "We want to make sure our families out there — the moms and dads and guardians — your kid, your young man or young lady, is going to be fine."
Sarno also said unvaccinated city employees across all departments will now be required to wear a mask and submit to frequent COVID-19 testing. He did not rule out mandating shots for all workers in the future.
The mayor also pleaded with residents during the press conference to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
There were 122 confirmed cases last week, up from just 17 cases a little more than a month ago. And vaccination rates across all of Hampden County continue to lag behind the rest of Massachusetts.
Helen Caulton-Harris, Springfield's Health and Human Services Commissioner, said misinformation on social media has led many people to avoid getting a COVID-19 vaccine. She said the city is offering incentives for people to get vaccinated, and residents are even being encouraged personally to do so.
"We are also going door-to-door," Caulton-Harris said. "Different strategy than in the past. So we are trying to combat that misinformation by going door-to-door, and giving credible information."
Sarno said people ages 18 to 35 have been especially slow to get vaccinated.