Andover school board to review mask mandate | News

ANDOVER — After months of covered faces, the city’s school mask mandate could be lifted as soon as the March 3 school board meeting.

The city implemented its own school mandate about two weeks ahead of the state during the summer of 2020, as students and teachers prepared to return to classrooms. Now that the state is lifting its own mandate for schools starting Feb. 28, local mandates are still in effect and committees are deciding how and when to lift them.

The committee will have its first of two readings on the policy change on Thursday, February 17, with the second reading set for March 3. The committee must have two readings of policy changes, according to its rules.

At the March 3 meeting, the committee can vote on the policy change and choose an effective date as of that day, according to the rules.

Some parents, including Beth Humberd of Andover, are asking the school board ahead of the meeting to bring Andover into compliance with the state’s updated mandate.

“I want to draw attention to the very real possibility that failure to align with state guidelines will exacerbate community tensions and create a level of conflict for building administrators that will be unmanageable. Each person has struggled in a unique way during this very difficult time: families are running out of patience, leaders at all levels are exhausted, and our educators are exhausted,” Humberd wrote in an email to the committee.

Students and staff will still be required to wear masks in certain situations like on the bus and in the nurse’s office due to federal mandates. Unvaccinated staff, anyone who has recently recovered from COVID-19 and visitors will still be required to wear masks, according to new guidelines announced by Governor Charlie Baker.