With a week left in its school year, the town of Brookline has lifted a COVID-19 mask mandate that applied to its public schools and certain other town spaces as cases of the virus and hospitalizations fall in the region.
When the town instituted the mandate on May 23, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention had designated most of Massachusetts as “high-risk” for the spread of COVID. Viral cases in Brookline were at their highest point since the end of January.
The community has since seen nearly four weeks of falling cases, town data showed.
Masks are no longer required in the public schools, library, senior center or other town buildings where the public gathers, according to Health Commissioner Sigalle Reiss.
The decision, effective Thursday, came with roughly a week left in the school year.
Reiss said the call was based on declining case counts in the area and in the schools, opening hospital beds and wastewater data that indicated fewer people were shedding viral material.
As of Thursday, the CDC had also dropped the COVID risk in Middlesex and surrounding counties to its lowest level.
The city of Boston also lowered its school mask requirement last week, with two weeks remaining in the school year. The decision rankled some parents, who questioned why the schools would drop masking in classrooms with so little time left in the year, according to the Boston Globe.
But with high vaccination rates — more than 80% of the state is fully inoculated against COVID — Massachusetts public health officials last week recommended that masks be optional for all residents, regardless of vaccination status.
Brookline still requires masks in health care facilities, regardless of vaccination status, and in private businesses that enforce a mask requirement.