Masks, COVID-19 surveillance testing, contact tracing and test-to-stay programs are not being recommended for schools during the upcoming school year by Massachusetts education and public health officials.
A memo published Monday by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Public Health reiterated that there are no longer any statewide masking mandates or testing requirements for schools.
"This upcoming school year, districts and schools should focus their COVID mitigation strategies towards vulnerable and symptomatic individuals," officials wrote.
Districts may still decide to implement their own testing programs, but state officials recommend limiting those programs to the rapid testing of symptomatic individuals.
Individuals can continue to wear masks and the memo said they should be "supported in that choice."
As of Monday, all students and staff in childcare, grades K-12 and camps are being instructed to adopt the latest updated isolation and exposure guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That recommends anyone with symptoms of illness stay home and that those with symptoms of COVID-19 get tested "as soon as possible after symptoms begin."
"Once isolation has ended, people should wear a well-fitting mask or respirator around others through day 10," states the guidelines for those who become sick with COVID-19.
The CDC's guidance does not recommend routine testing in schools and only suggests masking in schools when a community is experiencing a high level of COVID-19 spread.
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Public Health officials are continuing to recommend vaccination as "the best way to protect individuals against the effects of COVID-19," and they are encouraging all faculty, staff and students to get vaccinated.
"With COVID-19 vaccines now readily available, treatments accessible to those at higher risk for severe disease, and widespread availability of self-tests, DESE and DPH have continued to evolve our support for schools in collaboration with the medical community," officials wrote in the memo.
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Masks, COVID-19 testing, contact tracing are not being recommended for schools