Hoosac Valley Regional School District Lifts Mask Requirements
ADAMS, Mass. — Starting Friday, students in the Hoosac Valley Regional School District no longer had to wear masks in class.
The district's School Committee voted 6-1 Thursday night to end masking requirements in the classroom. Nearly 60 people attended the meeting virtually to provide feedback to the committee and hear the decision.
"The position we're in with the policy is it's not necessarily enforceable," said Superintendent Aaron Dean before the vote. "It is kind of the way things have gone with DESE ... We're going to be spending a lot of time trying to enforce something that I think we'll be spinning our wheels on if we keep the policy in place."
Currently, 45.7 percent of the district's students are vaccinated, which committee member Erin Milne, the only dissenting voter, said is lower than other local school districts and communities.
"We are at 45.7 percent fully-vaccinated, compared to 62 percent of Berkshire County children ages 5 through 19 and almost 60 percent of Massachusetts ages 5 through 19," she said. "So we are lower than the same age peers in different portions of our community."
Dean said even with the masking rules lifted, the district respects student choice, whether they decide to continue wearing masks or not. Students will only be required to wear masks if they are symptomatic or coming out of quarantine.
"We won't tolerate harassment of others for not wearing a mask or for wearing a mask," he said. "And we will impose our handbook and our guidelines to make sure that doesn't happen."
Additionally, Dean explained that vaccines are still readily available, and students have the option to do at-home testing for COVID-19 whenever they wish.
"That's a family choice. Those are family options at this point in time," he said.
Committee Chair Michael Mucci said he thinks it is best from this point on to follow state guidelines regarding masks to avoid confusion. Gov. Charlie Baker's administration lifted state mask rules for schools on Feb. 28.
Public health officials are still encouraging those who are unvaccinated or who have compromised immune systems to continue masking and social distancing indoors.
"I can't tell you how many times I've overheard people say, 'Why does our school committee make us wear masks? Why don't they vote to let us take these masks off?'" he said. "Masks have been on this entire time because we follow DESE rules and regulations. We're a public school, and we've been bound to follow them. I think the timing that DESE did with this made it a little bit of a hiccup for schools to deal with."
Tags: COVID-19, HVRSD, masks,
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