Special Meeting, Feb. 14 ~ Board of Health to Consider DESE’s Recent Indoor Mask Ruling

The Board of Health has scheduled a special virtual meeting for Monday at 6 p.m. to consider when to implement rescinding its indoor mask mandate.

Last Monday the board – after months of back-and-forth on the issue – reached consensus that the restriction would be lifted if the rapid decline in Middlesex County Covid-19 hospitalizations continues.

Susan Schwartz, vice-chair, proposed another exit ramp that was accepted: an end to the schoolhouse mask requirement handed down by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Less than two days later, Gov. Charlie Baker and the education commissioner announced that the school mandate would no longer be in effect when students and teachers return from winter break on Feb. 28.

The timing of that announcement was a surprise, said Anita Raj, chair of the Bedford Board of Health. “We weren’t expecting to hear from DESE until the 28th or sometime during school vacation. Then we could have finalized and voted at our meeting on the 28th.”

Soon after the governor’s announcement, Raj said, she and Schwartz got a call from Heidi Porter, town Director of Health and Human Services. “She asked if we wanted to have a meeting. The other three members agreed,” Raj said.

Monday night the board is expected to discuss and vote whether to align with the timing of the new DESE policy.

For example, Raj said, “I am going to ask whether we want to be coterminous with DESE as of the 28th, or do we make it the 18th so there can be school vacation week without masks.” Other members may reply that there should be a pause after a school vacation to assess the impact of travel on Covid cases.

Raj pointed out that several area towns have already rescinded mask requirements, such as Billerica and Sudbury.

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected], or 781-983-1763

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Chad Haering
February 14, 2022 11:06 am

The timing of this couldn’t be worse. Any lifting of mask mandates should be delayed for 10 days after february break so that school does not turn into a super-spreader event.

February 15, 2022 9:03 pm
Reply to  Chad Haering

Well maybe you can tell that to Stacey Abrams?