Boston Public Schools is considering reinstating a mask mandate after the holiday break to minimize absenteeism from COVID-19, the mayor stated in a Wednesday announcement.
The decision is currently under consideration by city officials who fear a rise in COVID-19 cases once students return to the classroom in the new year, NBC Boston reported. Democratic Mayor Michelle Wu stated that a decision would be finalized by the end of the week.
“We have not finalized that decision and communicated that yet,” Wu said during a Wednesday press conference. “But as mentioned in preparations as recently as late last school year, there was always a focus on this time of year. This time of year one year ago is when we were experiencing more than 1,000 staff absences in schools because of COVID every single day. Central office administrators had to step in to teach.”
Wu claimed that a mask mandate could help keep students and faculty in the classroom by slowing infection from other diseases other than COVID-19, which she admitted had declining case numbers. There were 15.7 new cases per day per 100,000 population reported the week of Dec. 24, according to the city website.
Average cases dropped 4.1% over seven days.
“We will share a decision with families later this week. Our number one goal is to make sure everyone is safe and mostly staffing levels can [b]e where they need to be in order for schools to remain open,” she reportedly said. “We know as COVID levels have eased, people have felt comfortable traveling for the holidays, being in larger gatherings, being in more in person situations, and that means there will be a natural jump in COVID and other illnesses coming off this break. We are thinking about the best way to preempt that and thinking about the tools we have for a potential temporary masking period.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) labeled Suffolk County, which includes Boston, as a medium-level county. A medium level advises community members to “wear a high-quality mask” in public if they are at high risk for COVID-19, but does not recommend mandates.
“People may choose to mask at any time,” the CDC’s website states. “People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a high-quality mask or respirator when indoors in public.”
Wu and Boston Public Schools did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.