Well, I'm sure that plenty of you reading this right now saw the writing on the wall and knew it was only a matter of time before it happened. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced some new guidance on Friday concerning the wearing of masks in schools this fall.

There will be some differences between this year's return to school and last year's return. Namely, fewer masks. But masks all the same. In Friday's statement, the DESE outlined its health and safety guidelines for Fall 2021, including recommendations on COVID-19 testing and facemasks.

DESE is recommending all students in kindergarten through grade 6 wear masks when indoors, except students who cannot do so due to medical conditions. When students are outdoors, masks are not necessary. Also, masks may be removed while eating indoors.

DESE is also recommending that unvaccinated students in all grades, as well as unvaccinated visitors, wear masks inside. Vaccinated students and staff can remain unmasked indoors and outdoors, according to the latest guidance.

Also, any individual at higher risk for severe disease from COVID or with a household member who is at high risk is encouraged to mask regardless of vaccination status. And, masks will be mandated for all students and staff on school buses at all times.

DESE is also urging all schools, and in particular, those with vaccination rates below the Massachusetts state average, to hold on-site vaccination clinics during summer orientation or when classes begin.

The DESE guidance also says students and staff continue hand hygiene practices. And, most importantly, stay home when sick. For more on the recommended guidelines from the DESE, click here.

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