Maskless Braintree school board member says policy is inconsistent

BRAINTREE – School committee member Tom Devin said he followed the rules when it came to controlling the spread of coronavirus.

He said he was fully vaccinated, received a booster shot and recovered from a case of COVID-19 over the Christmas holidays in 2020. He said he was wearing a mask at work, as required, and that he had worn a mask at recent school committee meetings. , including one on October 4 at East Middle School.

Devin said he did not wear a mask at Monday’s school committee meeting and the School Building Committee, which was also held at East Middle School. On the same day, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education had extended its requirement to wear masks inside school buildings through Feb. 28, a policy that covers visitors.

“I question the hypocrisy,” Devin said in an interview Tuesday. “I seek consistency in all areas. … I did everything my government told me to do. I question my government. I have the right to do that.”

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Tom Devin, member of the Braintree school board.

Since neither Devin nor new school committee member Matthew Lynch wore a mask at Monday’s meeting, new school committee chair Lisa Fiske Heger asked for motions to postpone much of the work of the meeting until January 24. The session lasted 14 minutes, with about 10 minutes devoted to the election of the committee officers for the new year.

After referencing the state’s decision to maintain mask-wearing in school buildings, Heger said, “Students, staff, and all visitors need to be masked in our schools. I don’t think any None of us like this mask mandate. No one wants to wear masks. However, it is a mandate and all school committee members should and must abide by it.

Pupils at Morrison School in Braintree are warmly welcomed by teachers and staff on Monday 5th April 2021.

Pupils at Morrison School in Braintree are warmly welcomed by teachers and staff on Monday 5th April 2021.

Heger said she will ask committee members if they would like to hold future meetings to hold them remotely on a platform such as Zoom or in a municipal building not covered by the Department of Education’s mask requirement. the state. Braintree does not have a municipal indoor mask mandate.

“We need to figure out how we will organize meetings in the future,” Heger said.

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As examples of inconsistent mask policies, Devin pointed to the Jan. 3 ceremony in which the city’s newly elected officials were sworn in at the school’s building committee meeting.

At the swearing-in ceremony, much of the audience of around 50 people and most officials were masked, with some briefly removing them as they took the oath. Some newly elected officials did not attend the ceremony for fear of catching the virus.

Six of the eight municipal councilors present wore masks.

Devin also pointed to the school building committee meeting, where he was the only committee member not to wear a mask. Some members of the public did not wear masks.

Students are greeted by a sign showing COVID-19 precautions at East Middle School in Braintree on the first day of in-person classes in 2021.

Students are greeted by a sign showing COVID-19 precautions at East Middle School in Braintree on the first day of in-person classes in 2021.

Lynch, the other school committee member who did not wear a mask on Monday, did not return calls for comment on Tuesday. He declared his opposition to state mandates and was in the United States Capitol during the January 6, 2021, uprising. He said he did not enter the building.

On Monday, the city’s health department reported 957 cases of COVID-19 last week, for a total of 8,023 cases.

In schools, the state reported that 381 students and 157 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the two weeks ending Jan. 5.

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This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: A member of the Braintree school committee said he questions the ‘hypocrisy’ of the mask