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Springfield Public Schools to Lift Mask Mandate

|   City News

The Springfield Public Schools (SPS) face mask mandate will be lifted beginning Monday, April 4th, although with exceptions and several important recommendations, Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick announced today.

The current mandate requiring SPS students, staff, and visitors to wear a mask on school grounds and on school buses will be lifted to allow mask wearing to be optional as of Monday, April 4th. The School Committee rescinded the face mask policy to reflect the lifting of the mandate during a regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, March 31st.

However, the new guidelines around mask wearing require that masks remain mandatory for anyone entering a school nurses’ office. The mask rule also remains mandatory for anyone returning to school from a five-day quarantine following a positive COVID test.

“It’s been a very long time since students and teachers have been able to see one another’s smile and since they have been able to enjoy the school day without covering their faces,” said Warwick. “I can’t say enough about our students, staff and families who have weathered these difficult times with the level of perseverance and determination that they have shown.”

The relaxation of the mask mandate is accompanied by a strong recommendation that masks continue to be worn by those who are not vaccinated and by those whose immune system may be compromised.

Warwick said the recommendation to relax the mask mandate came through the City of Springfield Public Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.

“The Commissioner has guided us through this pandemic with an unwavering commitment to the health and safety of our students and staff,” Warwick said. “This decision was not entered into lightly. It is based on data and science, as every district decision has been since COVID hit in March 2020.”

Warwick stated that the decision to lift the mask mandate was rooted in the steep decline in COVID-19 rates as it relates specifically to the Springfield community and the schools.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated: “I want to thank Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, SPS Director of Nursing Jeanne Clancy, Superintendent Daniel Warwick, Parks, Buildings and Recreational Management Director Patrick Sullivan and everyone for their continued efforts working together to defeat this COVID-19 pandemic.  We have not only made numerous improvements to the physical building of all of our schools but also kept appropriate public health and safety measures in place for the good of all our students and staff.  I want to commend everyone for their patience and cooperation.  We followed all of the proper federal and state public health guidelines and recommendations. The health of our students, teachers and faculty always remained our number one priority.”

Sarno added that the City invested millions of dollars to ventilation upgrades in every school building - and even every classroom - to standards exceeding those required by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“Even in the midst of the pandemic, long before schools were reopened, we knew this day would come and we invested time, energy and resources on the front end to ensure that when the day finally came when schools were open and masks were not required, we would have peace of mind knowing our schools are outfitted with effective, state-of-the art ventilation,” said Sarno.

Warwick said that as mask use becomes optional, schools have been charged to monitor the climate and culture of their building with ongoing hypervigilance. “There will be zero tolerance for any disparaging, mocking, or negative interactions of any kind because of an individual’s or a family’s decision to wear or not wear masks,” said Warwick. “We know there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue, and we are committed to cultivating an environment of understanding and acceptance. There will be consequences consistent with the Code of Conduct for any behavior to the contrary.”

Warwick emphasized the continuation of other COVID-19 safety practices in schools including daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols, frequent handwashing, social distancing to the greatest extent possible, and staying home when sick. COVID-19 testing, and the availability of masks will remain in place as long as feasible. “And of course, the district continues to encourage vaccination for all who are eligible,” Warwick added.

In addition to the mask mandate being lifted, school buildings will once again be open to parents and visitors as of April 4th.           

Page last updated:  Tuesday, March 1, 2022 01:32 pm