While there is always a risk in going to school without a mask, doctors in Boston say that at some point Massachusetts has to draw a line, lest students end up wearing masks forever .
Education officials are currently considering whether or not to extend the term of the school mask when it expires on November 1. As part of the weekly “COVID Q&A” series, NBC10 Boston asked three of Boston’s top doctors on Tuesday about their thoughts on the state’s policy on school masks.
âAssuming we don’t think students should be wearing masks in school for the rest of the time, we need to set an end point,â said Dr Shira Doron of Tufts Medical Center. “And that endpoint could be based on vaccination rate, it could be based on case rates and it could be based on hospitalization rates, and there are a number of metrics that you can use, and they are all flawed in one way or another. “
âI agree with Dr. Doron,â added Dr. Davidson Hamer of Boston Medical Center. “I mean, we need to think ahead when we can start to withdraw some of our warrants.”
School districts can currently only seek state approval to drop the requirement for vaccinated individuals once they have achieved an 80% vaccination rate among students and staff.
The opt-out process became available to Massachusetts schools last Friday. As of Monday, nine schools had asked to lift the mask’s mandate – five high schools, one middle school with seventh and eighth grades, and three approved special education schools primarily serving grades 9-12.
High school students in Hopkinton will be the first in Massachusetts to attend class without a mask in an experimental trial next month.
Hopkinton High School is set to become the first in Massachusetts to lift the mask mandate. School officials voted Thursday night to allow fully vaccinated high school students to unmask themselves in an experimental trial next month.
âWe have a high proportion of our population immune, the circulation of the virus has decreased so it’s time to start trying to look like a more normal life,â Hamer said.
A total of 4,705,194 Massachusetts residents have been fully immunized, health officials reported Thursday.
In August, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education authorized Commissioner Jeff Riley to require masks for students aged 5 and over and school staff until at least October 1 and Riley on September 27 has extended the requirement until at least November 1.
Massachusetts students will wear masks for at least a month.
Doron, who works as a volunteer advisor to the Education Commissioner, was involved in shaping Riley’s policy.
“Obviously, I am a supporter of this plan,” she said. âI think that at an 80% vaccination rate, schools will be fairly well protected against any major epidemic and, of course, if every adult and child over the age of 12 has had the opportunity to be vaccinated. I think that is reasonable. “
“I agree,” said Dr Daniel Kuritzkes of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “I think we can quibble what the percentage should be with higher transmissibility from Delta but, you know, you have to pick a number and be prepared to adapt as circumstances change.”
On Tuesday, Riley said he expects a decision “by the start of next week” on whether to extend the policy beyond November 1.