EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Are COVID-19 booster shots required for school this year? Will your child need to wear a mask? What about testing?
Here’s a look at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (DPH) current COVID-19 safety recommendations for schools:
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are recommended for anyone 6 months or older. Health officials are encouraging schools to recommend vaccinations. To learn about vaccine availability and booster eligibility, visit the DPH’s website.
The state is not recommending universal mask mandates in schools, according to the DPH. Any individual who wishes to continue to mask, such as those at higher risk, is encouraged to do so. Masking is never required in these settings while the individual is eating, drinking, sleeping, or outside.
Symptomatic individuals can remain in their school or program if they have mild symptoms, are tested immediately on-site, and test negative. The DPH recommends wearing a mask while symptoms last. For symptomatic individuals, the DPH suggests taking a second test within 48 hours if the initial test is negative.
If a symptomatic individual cannot be tested immediately, they should be sent home and can return if:
- They test negative and symptoms remain mild
- They’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and symptoms are resolving
- A medical professional makes an alternative diagnosis
A negative test is strongly recommended before returning to school.
The DPH recommends schools implement their own testing programs.
Testing is also available at pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and respiratory clinics.
All students and staff, including at daycares and recreational camps, must isolate for five days after a positive test.
Individuals can return to school settings after five days if they are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving, according to the DPH. They should wear a high-quality mask through day 10.
Quarantine is no longer required or recommended for children, according to the DPH. If exposed, individuals can continue to attend school as long as they remain asymptomatic. Testing on day 6 after exposure and masking is recommended.
The DPH is no longer recommending schools use contact tracing.