Masks, COVID-19 testing and contact tracing not recommended for schools

Masks, COVID-19 surveillance testing, contact tracing and test-to-stay programs not recommended for schools in next school year by Massachusetts education and public health officials .

A memo released Monday by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Public Health reiterated that there are no more masking mandates or statewide testing requirements for the schools.

“This upcoming school year, districts and schools should focus their COVID mitigation strategies on vulnerable and symptomatic individuals,” officials wrote.

Districts can still decide to implement their own testing programs, but state officials recommend limiting those programs to rapid testing of symptomatic people.

Individuals can continue to wear masks and the memo says they should be “supported in this choice”.

As of Monday, all students and staff in child care, K-12, and camps must adopt the latest updates to isolation and exposure guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It recommends anyone with symptoms of illness to stay home and those with symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested “as soon as possible after symptoms start”.

“Once isolation is complete, people should wear a properly fitted mask or respirator around others until day 10,” the guidelines for those who become ill with COVID-19 read.

CDC guidelines do not recommend routine testing in schools and only suggest masking in schools when a community is experiencing a high level of spread of COVID-19.

Officials from the Department of Primary and Secondary Education and the Department of Public Health continue to recommend vaccination as “the best way to protect individuals from the effects of COVID-19”, and they encourage all teachers, staff and students to get vaccinated.

“With COVID-19 vaccines now readily available, treatments accessible to those at higher risk of severe illness, and the widespread availability of self-testing, DESE and DPH have continued to evolve our support for schools in collaboration with the medical community,” officials wrote. in the memo.