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Boston Public Schools urge students, staff to wear masks for first 2 weeks of school

As students and staff return to Boston Public Schools after winter break, the superintendent is asking them to mask up for the first two weeks of the year at school and on buses.

Superintendent Mary Skipper, in a letter to families, said both staff and students will be asked to mask up from their respective first days back until Friday, Jan. 13.

"This is our ask and expectation of students and staff, not a mandate," she wrote.

Disposable masks will be available for anyone who needs them, and no one will be disciplined or sent home if they don't wear a mask, Skipper wrote. She also said masks will be available for athletes at practices and games, but there is no request to wear them.

In addition to masking, Skipper asked that families test students for COVID-19 on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning with the iHealth antigen kits sent home with students before the break.

Other Massachusetts' school districts have also recommended masking as students and staff return from winter break, including in Newton, Arlington and Lexington.

The requests come as rates of COVID-19 have increased in recent weeks. While they remain well below earlier peaks, hospitalizations have risen in Massachusetts since late November, and positive test rates are also higher. Wastewater testing shows the presence of COVID is up sharply to levels not seen since January.

This article was originally published on December 30, 2022.

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