West Hartford Public schools will mandate masks for all students and staff this fall, according to a message from the superintendent.
The district will begin the school year by requiring masks across all grades, in school and on busses, according to the message from Superintendent Tom Moore, who noted that the decision is based on a combination of factors. Those include guidance from the Center for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the state Department of Public Health and current case counts.
Current CDC guidance is that people should wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, in areas experiencing "substantial" or "high" COVID-19 transmission. Hartford County is currently classified as seeing "high" transmission.
Moore stressed that this will be a mandate, not optional, and that it is in the interest of having everyone in school and keeping people healthy.
"Some parents have been vocal that they will not allow their child to wear a mask in school. I need to be clear- this is not optional. Therefore, if any child refuses, parents will be called to come pick them up. Please, no matter how strongly you feel about this, do not put your child in this position," Moore wrote.
The question of whether children should wear masks in schools has been divisive across the country. In Connecticut, there have been anti-mask rallies with protesters sporting signs and bumper stickers calling on the state to “unmask our kids.” A statewide mask mandate is not in effect, but Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order Thursday that gives municipalities the power to create their own universal masking guidelines. Final guidance from the state on what will be required of school districts has not yet been released.
The superintendent also pointed out in his message that the district has seen a "very large percentage" of students being vaccinated, and that the district plans to host vaccination clinics when a COVID-19 vaccine is approved for those under 12.
More specifics on the district's plans and COVID-19 policies are available here.