Chair Driscoll Statement on Change to K-12 School Mask Mandate
I join everyone in wanting to move beyond the pandemic and the resulted death and disruptions that have continued for over two years.
In the past the Administration has used three weeks of data and four weeks of information as a basis for major changes regarding interventions. It would be prudent to wait until there is stability in the COVID-19 data trends prior to implementing a change such as this. So where are we?
Currently, the wastewater monitoring data available via the MWRA show figures consistent with the middle of November 2021 when we were entering the second week of the current surge. The declining trend is encouraging and suggests that we are close to exiting the surge.
Providing local school districts more than two weeks of notice on a change such as this is a welcome departure from previous policy pivots that were announced more abruptly and with little time for implementation.
However, it should be noted that the Administration appears to be dealing in hypotheticals. Lifting this restriction says, hypothetically, that COVID-19 data trends will support lifting the statewide K-12 mask mandate on Feb 28th (a date rather than a data point) and that any negative mental health effects as a result of masks in schools outweigh the positive effects of universally masking K-12 students, which has been one of, if not the major contributing measure to preventing COVID-19 transmission in schools, keeping kids healthy and safe during the pandemic.
In the same way that it's appropriate to review & scale countermeasures as trends improve, it's appropriate for the administration to provide the public with a trigger or data threshold(s) that if met could reinstate measures, such as K-12 masking.
Bill Driscoll Jr.
Joint Committee on COVID-19 & Emergency Preparedness & Management
This statement was quoted in an article, linked here: '"'It's an irresponsible decision,' state Sen. Jo Comerford says as Baker administration allows Massachusetts school mask mandate to expire," by Alison Kuznitz, MassLive