NEWTON, Mass. —At least two more communities in Massachusetts are joining the city of Boston by asking their students, teachers and staff to wear masks during school after they return from winter break.
Arlington Public Schools and Newton Public Schools, like Boston Public Schools, are not mandating that masks be worn and do not have any plans to enforce mask-wearing.
The mask advisories are being put in place in order to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19, influenza and RSV.
“A strong recommendation for masking for two weeks so all of us have a greater chance of staying healthy so we can do our important work of learning and teaching,” Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in an email to NewsCenter 5.
Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, has issued a strong recommendation that students, staff and visitors who are able wear masks for nine school days from Jan. 3 through Jan. 13.
“We do not make this recommendation lightly; in an effort to protect in-person learning and strong service delivery, we feel it is important to issue this recommendation and ask for your participation,” APS Superintendent Elizabeth Homan said in a statement.
In a message to the school community posted Saturday, Boston Public Schools officials said masking will be an “ask and expectation” but not a mandate for a total of eight school days, beginning with the return to classes on Jan. 4 and lasting through Jan. 13.
“No one will be disciplined or sent home if they refuse to wear a mask,” officials wrote.
The district said it will provide disposable masks.
“We are anticipating a period of high transmission of the flu, RSV and COVID-19, so Boston Public Schools and the Boston Public Health Commission have determined masking for the next eight school days will help keep our kids safely in the classroom with their peers,” Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement.
Masks will also be available for student-athletes at practices or games, but the district said they will not be expected.
Additionally, BPS said it will continue to provide all students and staff with home testing kits every two weeks.