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Local school leaders make mask decisions, as the end of a state-wide mandate approaches

First Day of School
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
Student engagement specialist Eddie Brown directs students as they exit the bus on the first day of school at Wish School in Hartford on August 30, 2021.

Local boards of education and superintendents are now deciding what their district mask policies will be, as a state-wide school mask mandate expires at the end of this month.

On Wednesday, Greenwich officials decided to make masks optional, immediately after the statewide requirement expires.

Greenwich Board of Education Chair Kathleen Stowe said students have done the right thing.

"I know it was never easy for my three, it was probably never easy for your children, but they did one of their basic tenets, which is to care for themselves and others. And they really followed that," Stowe said. "We need to reward our students now by giving them a choice."

Other members of the Greenwich Board of Education questioned the effectiveness of the school mask mandate. Cody Kittle said he hoped students will learn not to defer to authority figures.

"I hope this is a teachable moment for students," Kittle said. "I think this has been a failed experiment, and the costs have been greater than the benefits."

February 16, 2022 Board of Education Special Meeting - Mask Policy

Westport's superintendent recommended that the town's board of education lift its school mask policy after the state-wide mandate ends.

But the nearby city of Stamford has decided to extend its mask requirement through March 15.

Bridgeport will keep a local mask requirement in place, through the end of March.

"Either way, whatever decision is made, you are going to make a lot of people happy and a lot of people upset," said Bridgeport Superintendent Michael Testani at a school board meeting Tuesday. "There's a lot of emotion on both sides, about whether we should remain in a mask mandate, or whether we should make it a parent option."

Testani said the district's student vaccination rate was low.

Some Bridgeport board of education members had wanted a local mask requirement in place through the end of the school year.

They said the requirement would be a useful precaution against possible increases in transmission.

But other board members wanted mask-wearing to be made optional quickly.

They said children face lower risks of serious health problems compared to adults.

BBOE REGULAR BOARD MEETING February 15, 2022

Matt Dwyer is a producer for Where We Live and a reporter and midday host for Connecticut Public's news department.