Northampton Public Schools Latest to Bring Mask Mandate Back

Parent Melissa Jean reads "The Gruffalo" to her son's Pre-K class at Phyl's Academy, Wednesday, March 24, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Beginning in September the city's public schools, which currently serve 23,500 three-year-olds, will be adding an additional 16,500 kids to the 3K program. (AP Photo/Mark …
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, Pool

Massachusetts’ Northampton Public Schools is the latest to bring back its mask mandate on students, citing an increase of cases of the Chinese coronavirus.

Superintendent John Provost explained in a letter that the cases in the district’s testing program increased by 75 over three days last week, jumping from 64 on Wednesday to 139 on Friday, prompting the decision.

“Throughout the weekend, the District continued to receive information about increased virus activity in the school community,” Provost wrote, acknowledging that there would be “a variety of opinions concerning this decision.”

“It is not one that I made lightly,” he claimed. “Keeping our school community safe and our schools open and functioning are my most important duties at this time.”

Provost added that the intervention “must be attempted” because “the current increase in disease spread is impacting the lives and learning of many within our school community.”

As a result, students will be required to mask up through May 20.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ’s (CDC) risk map, Northampton’s Hampshire County is in the medium risk level. 

Massachusetts has not had a statewide mask mandate in place since February, and Gov. Charlie Baker (R) lifted the statewide mask mandate for schools that same month. However, it remains unclear if the governor plans to reintroduce mandates, according to MassLive:

On Monday, when asked about how the state plans to respond to the high levels of COVID reported across Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker would not say whether his administration is considering new masking guidance that would align with federal public health recommendations.

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