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Springfield school board votes to lift mask mandate

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) — The Springfield School Board voted to end its mask mandate starting Monday, making it one of the last districts in our area to do so.

Next Monday, students, teachers and staff at Springfield will no longer be required to wear masks in class. The school committee voted unanimously earlier tonight to end the term.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris said she was comfortable with the recommendation given the city’s COVID data.

“We have seen a downward trajectory when it comes to our cases. You will recall that in January we had 9,498 cases in this butterfly. in the month of February it went down to 1,484, and currently in March we are at 283,” she said.

Looking even closer, she said this week that there were only four cases among the 0-10 age group and 11 cases among the 11-20 year olds. And school officials said the number of cases remained low among students.

Masks will still be required in school health offices and for students and staff returning from quarantine on days 6-10 after testing positive. Masks will also still be strongly recommended for those who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised.

The updated guidelines also say schools will now allow visitors, meetings can be held in person, field trips are permitted and cafeterias will open for in-person service from May 1.

But not all schools will change policy just yet. A spokesperson for Phoenix Charter Academy told us that the school is keeping its mandate in place for the time being and will reevaluate next month.

School officials said there will always be strategies in place to mitigate the spread of COVID. These include social distancing where possible, hand washing, weekly pool testing as well as home testing kits for families who have opted in and encouraging vaccinations. Health officials said they would continue to meet and assess the data.

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