Mask tenure ends as Norwell High School hits 80% vaccination rate

NORWELL – Students at Norwell High School are among the first in the state to be able to attend class without a mask since the state began enforcing masks last fall.

The state allowed the school to end its mask requirement for vaccinated students and staff after its student body achieved a COVID-19 vaccination rate of 80%. The state has extended the mask’s mandate for schools until Jan. 15, unless they can meet the vaccination threshold.

Unvaccinated students and staff are still required to wear masks, and all students must wear them if taking a bus to school, according to federal rules.

Norwell High School began the maskless era this week and asked students to enter their immunization status into an online database.

“We are very early in the process,” said Norwell Schools Superintendent Matthew Keegan.

He said the admins still have some issues to sort out and everyone is doing their best. He said if unvaccinated students took off their masks at any time in the school, administrators tried to speak to them in private.

Keegan said administrators are asking people to respect those who wear masks for a number of reasons.

He praised the city for the high vaccination rate and for taking public health so seriously.

“It’s a real credit to the community as a whole,” Keegan said.

Following:The authorities of Mass. urge schools to help immunize children under 12

Following:State extends term of school masks for students and staff until end of year

Norwell High School is one of 11 schools that have been approved to drop the mask requirement for vaccinated students and is the first in the South Shore.

The state has so far received 18 requests to end the requirement. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has said it will not name schools that are still in the process of approval.

The decision to seek the end of the term rests with school districts, and schools that are approved to relinquish the term do not have to pass it if local officials do not wish to.

Norwell's Emily Fiorella kicks the ball away from Mashpee's Callia Eaton during women's football at Norwell High School on Friday, October 9, 2020.

The vaccines were cleared by the United States Food and Drug Administration for children as young as 12 earlier this year, and children as young as 5 on Friday.

Most of the schools that have been approved to drop the mandate are in some of the state’s more upscale communities, where the median annual household income is well above the state’s median of $ 81,000. according to US census data.

Norwell and Westwood, whose high school was also allowed to relinquish tenure, both have median household incomes of over $ 157,000.

In response to a question about whether the Education Department has equity concerns when it comes to removing mask warrants, spokeswoman Jaqueline Reis said in an email: “The removal of the mask mandate when the 80% vaccination threshold is reached is a local decision.”

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Joe Difazio can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jldifazio.

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