Mask Mandate Reinstated in Chelsea Public Schools

With an uptick in Covid-19 cases in Suffolk County, Chelsea students will once again mask up at school.

Last Friday, Jan. 6, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Almi Abeyta announced that a mask mandate was back in effect for students and staff in the public schools as of Monday, Jan. 9.

On Jan. 6, the CDC designated Suffolk County as high risk for Covid transmission, leading to the reinstitution of the mask policy in schools.

“As a result of this designation, Chelsea Public Schools will implement a mask mandate, effective on Monday, January 9,” stated Abeyta. “Masks must be worn in school buildings at all times except when eating or drinking. Mask wearing will continue to remain mandatory for any person visiting our school health offices, and anyone returning to school from a five-day quarantine following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.”

In April of last year, the School Committee voted to lift the mask requirement in schools provided CDC recommendations did not change based on the Suffolk County risk level. With the risk level changing, Abeyta said the public schools will follow its established protocols and reinstitute its mask mandate.

“We will continue to regularly monitor data and follow CDC recommendations in the event the risk level changes,” stated Abeyta. “The safety of our community is our highest priority.”

Following the winter break, Boston Public Schools asked students and staff to voluntarily wear masks, but did not mandate it.

While this is not a mandate, we’re really leaning on everyone to work together to follow our temporary protocol to ensure we are collectively doing our part to mitigate the risk of exposure for our students and staff in an effort to keep everyone safe as best we can,” Boston Superintendent of Schools Mary Skipper said in a statement.

Skipper also noted that masks can also help slow the spread of the flu and other respiratory illnesses.

As of December 29, the viral concentration in local wastewater samples is 1,947 copies per mL, representing a 42% increase over the past seven days and a 116% increase over the past 14 days, according to a press release from the Boston Public Health Commission. BPHC’s COVID-19 testing sites are reporting 18 new COVID-19 cases per day, marking a 22% increase over the past seven days (data as of Jan. 2). Through Jan. 4, Boston’s hospitals reported 306 new COVID-19 related hospitalizations. 

The latest testing data from Chelsea, for the week from Dec. 24 to Dec. 30, showed 88 confirmed new Covid cases in the city.

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