Boston Officials Lift Health Emergency Declaration but Continue to Force School Masking

Boston Officials Lift Health Emergency Declaration but Continue to Force School Masking

Officials in Boston, Massachusetts, announced their decision to lift the city’s health emergency declaration, but they will continue to force children to wear masks in school for the time being.

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) made the announcement Wednesday, lifting the declaration, which has remained in place for nearly two years.

“In the early stages of the pandemic, the declaration was really instrumental in our ability to establish an incident command structure and our ability to deploy staff and resources to perform crisis response, as well as health care coordination functions,” BPHC Executive Director Dr. Bisola Ojikutu claimed.

Boston's COVID-19 Public Health State of Emergency will end on April 1. It is important to remember that the pandemic is not over.

We remind everyone that the most effective way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated, boosted, and continue to wear a mask.

— Boston Public Health (@HealthyBoston) March 10, 2022

With this move, the orders, including the indoor mask mandate, will be no more. However, officials also made it clear they will use the health emergency declaration again in the future, if needed. As reported:

But now, she said, all the orders that were under the declaration have been rescinded, or are set to rescind April 1. Those orders include the citywide indoor mask mandate, the eviction moratorium, the declaration of a public health crisis related to unsheltered homelessness and substance use disorder, and the proof of vaccination mandate for public indoor gatherings.

Ojikutu made clear that the BPHC is still monitoring COVID-19 levels in the city, and is in the process of creating action plans should another variant surge occur. She said the commission will still be evaluating different COVID-19 metrics and could decide to reinstate the declaration in the future if necessary.

However, absent from the plans was an announcement freeing Boston school children from forced masking. While officials acknowledged the school system has seen a decrease in coronavirus cases, even avoiding recent spikes, they want to base the end of forced masking on the number of cases in the city per capita — a relatively bizarre metric, as they will no longer force adults to wear masks in public.

Once the marker drops to ten cases or less per 100,000 in the city, officials would recommend lifting the mask mandate on school children. The number currently sits at 13 per 100,000.

The decision to refrain from lifting the school mask mandate comes one month after Boston Mayor Michelle Wu (D) claimed that children wanted to remain masked up for a longer period of time:

Tonight I met with 70+ of our most engaged high schoolers in Boston. When asked how many believe we should keep masks on beyond 2/28 in @BostonSchools:

— Michelle Wu 吳弭 (@wutrain) February 10, 2022

Hannah Bleau