Mandatory Mask Order is Back for All K-12 Schools in Weston
At yesterday’s Board of Health meeting, the committee voted unanimously to impose a mask order for all K-12 schools in Weston, including public and private. In addition, any preschool that shares a facility with a Weston public school is also covered (no pun intended) under the mask order.
At the high point, there were 80 people in attendance at the 1 pm Wednesday Board of Health zoom meeting. This number included town employees, school administration, school committee members, Board of Health members, as well as parents and other concerned Weston residents.
Laura Azzam, chair of the BOH, thanked everyone for sending in comments to the Board over the last couple of weeks, and mentioned how difficult the situation is for everyone. Michele Schuckel, amazing human being and more officially the Covid-19 response manager for Weston, then spoke about current county statistics, the many recent developments in Covid-landia, including new numbers for the Delta variant, information on the recommendation for a third does, as well as new guidance for pregnant and breastfeeeding women. In addition, Ms. Schuckel commented that the CDC has said that vaccination provides a high level of protection than previous Covid infection, so all who have had Covid should get the vaccine as well.
Ms. Schuckel also talked more extensively about the Delta variant. It is more highly transmissable, “hyperlocal” outbreaks are possible, and there is a higher severity of the infection. Unvaccinated people are most at risk.
The meeting was then opened up for comment. The Owl suggests that everyone takes time to watch the meeting when the recording becomes available. I will say that we have residents who can speak eloquently on both sides of the mask debate, and that most of the comments were respectful and measured, with an understandable amount of emotion showing at various times. As many speakers noted, this is not an easy decision, and the many ramifications to individuals and to community were noted.
As editorial comment, I will only mention that the decision had essentially been made long before comments were made–the draft order was only edited for a few suggested changes. On the other hand, the committee respectfully listened for almost an hour as comments were made in favor of and against the mask order.
One of the perspectives was clearly taken to heart–that data and metrics must be evaluated continuously and a decision to mask now should not mean that it is unchangeable. As data change, so will the order. In particular, the plight of the high schoolers, a high percentage of whom are at least single-vaccinated, was mentioned as open for re-evaluation after the first month of school. Several times during the meeting, the importance of considering mental health of students was emphasized.
Stay tuned, Weston. Until then, vaccinate, and mask up indoors. We are all in this together.