Anyone older than 4 who walks into a Massachusetts public school will have to wear a face mask effective immediately.
Massachusetts Education Commission Jeff Riley issued the mask-wearing order Wednesday, just one day after he was granted the authority to do so by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The order also strongly encouraged masks for children too young for the mandate.
The order included some exceptions for medical, behavioral and religious exemptions, and said masks can be taken off to eat or drink. Schools can also designate special mask breaks.
"Mask breaks may occur throughout the day. If feasible, breaks should occur when the windows are open or students are outdoors. As a reminder, meals and outdoor recess provide built-in mask breaks for students and staff," the order reads.
Discipline for anyone who violates the order is up to the individual school district.
"Districts should provide written notice to students and families about expectations and potential consequences, and are encouraged to use a progressive discipline approach."
After Oct. 1, vaccinated individuals can take off their masks if their school can show at least 80% of students and staff have been inoculated.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Boston reversed its previous position and announced it would require masks in schools. The change was made to keep the church's 69 schools in line with the state's order. The archdiocese also strongly encouraged the 31 Massachusetts Catholic schools not under its direct control to follow suit.
This article was originally published on August 25, 2021.