The Revere School Committee voted unanimously last week to end the mask mandate in Revere Public Schools (RPS) for students and staff on March 14 with mask wearing becoming optional after that date.
After taking testimony from the public, Revere School Committee member Stacey Rizzo made the motion that was seconded and approved.
“It was nice to hear from the community on how they felt, and I know there’s never going to be decision that’s going to make everyone happy, I think we’re all here, along with the community, to do what we think is best for our students and our staff,” said Rizzo before making the motion.
Masks will still be required in school health offices and on school transportation and RPS will determine if mask mandates need to be complimented or discontinued as the situation demands.
“I just like to say that I’m looking forward to a new chapter, a new dawn and a new day where we are moving away from this pandemic and learning to live with it responsibly,” said Revere School Committee member Aisha Milbury-Ellis. “This will bring back a sense of some normalcy to these kids, and to the staff and our whole way of living. So I’m happy about this vote. I think it’s going to restore some confidence that we’re taking some proactive measures to bring that (sense of normalcy) to our families.”
While School Committee member John Kingston voted to remove the mandate he argued that RPS should still provide masks free of charge to staff who still want to wear a mask in class.
“I would like to stress that I believe that the district should continue to provide masks to all staff that wish to have them,” he said. “If a staff member doesn’t want to wear a mask, fine, but I think the district should provide that level of protection to the staff that wishes to wear it and I think the district should pay for it.”
Prior to the vote, Revere Teachers Association (RTA) member and Seacoast teacher Eric Fearing reported that RTA members were split on whether or not the mandate should be lifted.
“The RTA did a quick poll of our membership over the weekend and we’re not surprised to see it come out about 51.5 percent to 48.5 in favor of keeping the mask mandate,” said Fearing. “Some concerns came up at an executive board meeting about whether teachers would be expected to enforce mask wearing for students who were coming back from an illness or whose parents wanted masks on. We just don’t think that that’s feasible. It’s going to be the honor system for our students if they don’t have to wear masks. We can’t know who’s supposed to be masking again and who’s not with any reliability. So we ask you to keep that in mind.”
However, Fearing did say the original plan to end the mask mandate right after school vacation would have been bad timing.
“Doing it the day after February break did not seem like the time to make this change,” he said. “A lot of students travel to places that may have a lower vaccine concentration than around here and they would have missed a week of pool testing. It seems like the delay of a week or two as many neighboring communities have already done would be prudent, but we’re certainly not opposed to removal of the mask mandate.”