Superintendent: HHS receives DESE approval to make masks voluntary for vaccinated individuals

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Superintendent of Schools Carol Cavanaugh announced Tuesday via a press release that Hopkinton High School has been approved by the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to make masks voluntary for COVID-vaccinated individuals, although nothing will change unless the School Committee votes to implement the new policy.

At last Thursday’s School Committee meeting, the committee put off a vote on the matter, with plans to revisit it at the Oct. 21 meeting.

DESE announced late last month that schools that can show a vaccination rate of 80 percent or higher among all students and staff could be allowed to lift the mask requirement. Hopkinton had submitted its attestation form Oct. 1 and just received the approval from DESE.

“Based on the information [the school district] provided, Hopkinton High School’s request has been approved,” the DESE approval letter reads. “Vaccinated individuals in this school are not currently subject to the Department’s mask requirement, although they may certainly choose to continue to wear a mask while in school. Please note that in alignment with statewide guidance, unvaccinated students and staff are still required to continue wearing masks. Please note further that the Department reserves the right, following consultation with medical experts and state health officials, to re-institute the Department’s mask mandate at Hopkinton High School, if it becomes appropriate based on state and local public health data.”

Wrote Cavanaugh Tuesday: “Naturally, the Superintendent and the School Committee are taking a cautious, informed approach in order to mitigate risk and to be prepared for the logistics of unmasking, if that does end up being the decision for Hopkinton.”

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