By Taylor Donnelly
Boston University News Service
Public schools in Brookline have been making changes to their in-school masking policies, in accordance with the town lifting its own townwide mask mandate.
The Public Schools of Brookline announced earlier this month that masks would be optional for students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, shortly following the townwide mask requirement lift on Saturday, March 12, 2022.
According to the Brookline Department of Public Health, “Residents are reminded that masking is still mandatory for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, on public transportation and rideshares, and while in healthcare facilities, including congregate care settings, per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Public schools control their own mask mandates and parents awaited the schoolwide decision on mask-wearing within the Public Schools of Brookline (PSB) system.
According to Public Schools of Brookline, “Beginning on Monday, March 14, masks will be optional for all students, staff, and individuals at all PSB schools and offices, regardless of vaccination status.”
“I ask that all of us, first and foremost, respect each of our masking decisions. As a values-based district, we will support and respect the choices and decisions that are made with respect to masking,” said Superintendent of Public Schools of Brookline, Linus J. Guillory Jr., Ph.D., in an announcement on March 11, 2022.
“Our transition is the idea that, we are not telling people to not wear a mask or that you shouldn’t but that we are giving them a choice,” said Mike Chan, communications specialist at the Brookline School District Office.
The following week, after the announcement, staff saw little change within the students’ mask-wearing.
“The mask mandate has been lifted but you would never know this by walking around the school, everyone is still wearing masks and I am too,” said Chris Metafo, a teaching aide at John Pierce School.
For staff and students within Public Schools of Brookline, COVID-19 testing protocols will remain the same through April 22.
“There has been little change to testing protocol. We have a home testing system for staff and families where they can elect to get tests every two weeks and report positive results, that is the system that we are relying on for asymptomatic testing,” said Chan. “The other option is testing at the school if a student is showing symptoms of COVID-19.”
Public Schools of Brookline will continue to provide masks for staff and students who request them.
“We recognize that all our staff and students have different reactions to the environment and our priority is to meet them where they are at,” said Chan.
According to the PSB Covid Dashboard, Brookline schools reported the lowest number of positive cases for the year during the week of March 17, but the most recent week of March 24, saw a drastic spike, with a report of 82 cases.