The Connecticut State Senate today joined the House in voting to leave masking decisions up to local districts as of February 28. The vote gives the State Department of Education the authority, until June 30 of this year, to re-instate a statewide mask mandate if a new wave of COVID makes that necessary.
CEA President Kate Dias testified before the legislature last week, sharing the results from a survey of members that showed most want masking to continue in schools.
“Just over half of our members–55%–favor a mask requirement. Forty percent are ready for the mask mandate to end, and 5% are not sure,” Dias said. “The majority of educators favor state- level control for the masking decision, to be made by the Department of Public Health, based on the science. Fifty-nine percent of members want DPH to make the determination about masks based on statewide data, 32% do not agree with that procedure, and 9% are unsure.”
Before making masking decisions at the local level, many boards of education are awaiting guidance that, although promised, has yet to come from the Department of Public Health. DPH Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani DPH has said her agency will be issuing guidance to local districts to help them navigate masking decisions, but will not be issuing concrete metrics as far as positivity or vaccination rates.
“We urge districts to consult with their local health department, follow guidance from DPH, and listen to all stakeholders as they make decisions on masking,” said Dias.
Earlier today the State Senate defeated an amendment that would have left masking decisions up to parents, rather than local districts, effective immediately.
“This amendment would have stripped power away from teachers, principals, and boards of education—with zero planning or notice. Causing chaos,” said Senator Matt Lesser.
Schools have stressed the need for time to plan for implementing new protocols and procedures if boards of education choose to no longer require masking.