“The safety of our community is our highest priority.”

David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe, File

Chelsea Public Schools this week is reinstituting its mask mandate, a move officials said is in response to Suffolk County being designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being at “high risk” for COVID-19 transmission. 

In recent weeks, several local school districts have moved forward with strongly recommending, but not requiring, students and staff to wear masks in response to rising case counts and the return to classes on the heels of holiday gatherings and travel. 

Effective Monday, masks must be worn in Chelsea public school buildings at all times “except when eating and drinking,” Superintendent Almi Abeyta wrote in a message to families on Friday.

“We will continue to regularly monitor data and follow CDC recommendations in the event the risk level changes,” she wrote. “The safety of our community is our highest priority.”

UMass Boston is also requiring masks starting Monday, in response to the rising COVID-19 rates.

The designation of being “high risk” for COVID-19 transmission by the CDC includes the recommendation from the federal agency that masks be worn in indoor public settings and on public transportation. The CDC also recommends getting tested for COVID-19 if you are experiencing symptoms.

Franklin, Worcester, Middlesex, Norfolk, Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, Nantucket, and Dukes counties are all listed as at high risk by the CDC. 

Previously, the Chelsea School Committee voted to lift its mask requirement in April 2022, provided that the CDC’s recommendations for Suffolk County’s risk level didn’t change. 

Alarm over the rising case counts in recent weeks has also been expressed in neighboring Boston, where last week Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, commissioner of public health and executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, urged residents to take protective measures, such as masking, testing, and most importantly, vaccination, against the respiratory illness. 

“Based on the trends, it is imperative that we all protect ourselves and others,” Ojikutu said in a statement. “I understand there’s a very high level of pandemic fatigue, but the numbers speak for themselves. We should all be masking indoors, staying home when sick, and testing for COVID-19.”


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