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For last week of school, Pioneer district students not required to wear masks outside

  • Pioneer Valley Regional School Principal Kevin Burke leads a group of students to their next class in September 2020. For the last week of school, students are allowed to go without masks during outdoor activities on school grounds. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 6/13/2021 12:41:41 PM

NORTHFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Regional School District School Committee unanimously voted Thursday to allow students to go without masks during outdoor activities on school grounds during the final week of school.

Students will still be required to wear masks while inside the school building, but Superintendent Jonathan Scagel said this update allowing students to remove their masks outside is especially welcome, as the end of the school year often sees fun activities held outdoors.

Scagel explained during Thursday’s meeting that the district had developed this change in policy based on a May 27 COVID-19 health safety update from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). He read from the DESE memo, which states the department is not issuing specific guidance for summer school programs. DESE also plans to lift all social distancing and mask requirements for fall classes.

“Their recommendation is for schools to operate additional programs throughout the summer with the same COVID mitigation strategies that they have had in place for the spring, with the exception of outdoor masking,” Scagel said.

DESE, Scagel noted, bases its guidance off of information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the state Department of Public Health and the World Health Organization (WHO). According to Scagel, the school district’s nurse, Carla Simpson, had contacted each member town’s respective Board of Health, all of which supported changing the mask policy in accordance with DESE.

According to DESE’s memo, all Massachusetts schools will be required to be in person, full-time, five days a week, and all COVID-19 health safety requirements will be lifted for the start of the 2021 to 2022 school year. DESE will collaborate with the Department of Public Health to issue additional health safety recommendations over the summer, like possibly continuing to require masks for elementary school students who would not be vaccinated.

Zack DeLuca can be reached
at zdeluca@recorder.com or


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