Gov. Ned Lamont announced earlier this month that he would end his term by approving a plan developed in consultation with Connecticut Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Jutani and Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker.
“Connecticut is seeing a sharp decline in the number of cases caused by the omicron variant, and children over the age of 5 are able to get vaccinated for more than three months,” Lamont said. “Given this, I think we are in a good position to phase out the requirement to wear masks in all schools across the state and postpone the decision to do so locally.”
The plan depended on a Connecticut General Assembly vote to extend an existing governor’s order that gives the health commissioner the ability to comply with mask requirements under certain conditions.
Departments of Public Health and Education recommend that counties consider a variety of indicators when determining whether to continue requiring masks, including the prevalence of local COVID-19 infections, vaccination status of students, staff, and society, and scope for planning. still needed to accommodate students and staff who may be at greater risk of infection.
“Before making any significant changes to mitigation strategies in schools (including the use of universal masks), the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Department of Education are urging school districts to consider and discuss the unique challenges of the school environment. in their school buildings, the health of their school population and the conditions in their immediate and surrounding communities, ”reads one of two documents released that evening in the districts.
Institutions have also included recommended steps that districts should take in the event of an outbreak, including restoring the mandate of localized masks, restricting mixing of classrooms and classrooms during meals and breaks, and restricting visitors outside.
The response has been mixed: the state’s largest cities – including Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury and Stamford – are all planning to continue to require face masks in schools. Many other areas have decided to make masks optional.
West Hartford is among dozens of communities in Connecticut that have decided to make masks optional.
“Now the reality is that the Department of Public Health has said that in many parts of Connecticut the right and safe time has come to move away from mandatory camouflage,” West Hartford superintendent Thomas Moore wrote in a recent statement to parents. “March should be a time when West Hartford’s public schools may switch to optional mask wear.”
The Connecticut Inter-School Sports Conference, a state organization that oversees high school sports, has announced it will not require student-athletes to wear masks at outdoor and indoor workouts and competitions from Feb. 28. However, the updated guide states that student-athletes: officials, coaches, gaming workers and spectators will follow the rules of camouflage issued by the venues where the events are held.
Lamont recommended that masks remain mandatory in other settings, including medical facilities, institutions where vulnerable populations live, public and private transit, and correctional facilities.
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