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School Superintendent Leader Stresses Importance Of Masks

Students wear masks at a school.
Anadolu Agency
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Students wear masks at a school.

Anti-mask demonstrators interrupted a back-to-school event with Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday this week. It’s one of many disruptions across the country in the lead up to back-to-school season.

Schools are adjusting their messaging on masks to parents. Even after all these months, schools are preparing for back to school with a reminder about how essential masks are.

Fran Rabinowitz, the executive director for the Connecticut Association for Public School Superintendents, said that schools are “talking with parents and with families, about the importance of masking as a mitigation strategy.”

Lamont instituted a mask mandate for Kindergarten through 12th grades in public and private schools across the state earlier this month. The mask mandate in schools runs through the end of September.

The best reaction to the pushback, Rabinowitz said, is a reminder that this pandemic isn’t over. She said that the state’s Department of Public Health reminded her recently that COVID numbers “right now are higher than the numbers last August [2020] when we went back to school.”

She commended districts that have sent out thorough communication to explain to parents why masks are important. She also recommended that school resource officers be aware of disruptive demonstrators.

Rabinowitz said she believes that children who arrive at school without a mask will be given one and that, across the state, children who refuse will ultimately not be allowed to stay in school.

But regardless, Rabinowitz defends parents’ and students' rights to their opinion: “We need to listen to diverse opinions, but in the end their reasons and the health authority reasons are just not on the same playing field.”

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She loves hearing what you thought of her stories or story ideas you have so please email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org.
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