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Is it time to return to ‘near normal’ conditions in school?

Some doctors and state officials are starting to call for a return to normalcy. Do you agree?

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
A student wore a mask at the Horance Mann School in Salem.

It seems the tides are starting to turn for some people in their thinking about COVID-19 restrictions, particularly in schools.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve asked readers how they feel about pandemic precautions in schools whether it was masking, remote learning, or vaccine mandates for students and teachers. At various points over the last two years, readers have expressed both support and distrust of such requirements and opinions justifiably change with every new pandemic development.

Last week, state officials sent a letter to heads of various public and private college presidents saying that “our goal must now be to transition the COVID-19 pandemic into an endemic” and said the institutions should help in leading the state back to “near normal conditions.”


To view COVID-19 as endemic would mean treating it as a regularly occurring and consistently maintained virus, a move the World Health Organization has said is still “a ways off.”

While similar calls have not yet been made by state officials about K-12 schools, some area doctors have expressed a similar desire to see the restrictions in public schools lifted. 

Three Boston-area doctors said in a Washington Post op-ed last week that while they previously supported masking in schools, they now felt it was time to remove those requirements in favor of optional masking. 

“Our children have sacrificed a lot to protect us. Now it’s time for us to give them their childhood back,” wrote Shira Doron, a hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, Westyn Branch-Elliman, an infectious diseases physician and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Elissa Perkins, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “universal indoor masking by all students (ages 2 years and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”

Some parents have made it known that they don’t support masking in schools, but polls have found that the majority of Americans do support school mask mandates. Six in ten Americans support the masking of students and teachers, and 52% of parents of school-age children support mask mandates for children, according to a poll conducted at the start of the academic year by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.


Gov. Baker extended the statewide school mask mandate through the end of February in response to the rising positive test rates in December and January, but now that the worst of the omicron surge has passed in Massachusetts, some may feel it’s time to ease this restriction on children. 

We want to know: Do you think it’s time to return to ‘near normal’ conditions in schools? Tell us if you think schools should treat the coronavirus as an endemic disease and what, if any, precautions you’d like to see in schools by filling out the survey below or emailing us at [email protected].