MALDEN, Mass. (WWLP) — On Monday, Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jefferey C. Riley informed school districts and parents that he will extend a statewide mask requirement. It applies to all public kindergarten through 12th-grade students, educators, and staff, and lasts through at least November 1.

“The best interest of students and staff as they return safely to full-time, in-person instruction this fall is at the forefront of my decision. Wearing masks is an important additional measure to keep students in school safely at this time.” Education Commissioner Riley said. “As health conditions evolve, we will continue to work with medical experts to find masking offramps for our youngest students who are not yet eligible for vaccines.”

According to the release provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, middle and high schools with 80% of their students and staff vaccinated will have the option to lift the mandate by submitting an attestation form to the department on October 15. However, if a school has already collected proof of vaccination and meets the 80% threshold, it may submit the attestation form before October 15 for consideration.

“Local school districts will have the option to remove masks for middle and high schools that reach this high vaccination rate among students and staff. We know some communities will want to submit verification quickly, and other communities might choose to continue their mask policies for now. This policy allows communities to make the decision at a local level,” said Education Secretary James Peyser in response to Education Commissioner Riley’s extension.

Once a school completes the verification process, vaccinated students and staff are no longer required to wear masks. Schools will be determining a confidential method to collect proof of COVID vaccination for students and staff. Examples provided included:

  • A COVID vaccination record
  • A copy of a record card
  • A signed self attestation completed by the vaccinated individual or parent/guardian
  • A printout from the Massachusetts Immunization Information System

Unvaccinated students and staff will be required to wear masks, however, the mandate has exceptions for students who cannot follow the mandate for medical reasons or behavioral needs.