Connecticut Keeps Masks In Schools as Surrounding States Pull Back Rules

While some states have announced in recent weeks that they are easing up on mask mandates in school districts, Connecticut has doubled down on COVID-19 protocols instead, extending school mask mandates statewide until the end of the month.

The mandate was supposed to end on Tuesday, but the state Senate voted on Monday to extend the mandate until February 28, a bill that was signed by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.

"Today marks a new phase in our state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Lamont said in a statement on Tuesday. "We are by no means declaring mission accomplished in our efforts to stop the spread of this virus, but we are acknowledging that this is a long-term situation that will need a long-term response."

States neighboring Connecticut have announced that they will be easing up on some restrictions in the coming weeks, citing relief seen as the Omicron surge declines.

Massachusetts will end its school mask mandate on February 28, however, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has said the mask mandate will remain in place for Boston Public Schools. New Jersey is ending its school mask mandate in March, but the Camden City School District will still require masks.

California, meanwhile, will end its universal indoor mandate starting on Tuesday, but face coverings will still be required in schools for the time being. New York has also ended its mask mandate, but like California, masks will still be required in schools.

Lamont's move did not come without opposition, as several Republican leaders held a news conference before the vote on Monday stating their concerns, and shared that the decision for COVID-19 safety measures within schools should no longer be in the hands of the state.

"We believe parents should be trusted with their children," said Senator Kevin Kelly on Monday. "And so yes we are more decentralized and the lowest unit of government is the family. And so parents, we think, certainly have the best interest of the children and at heart."

Connecticut's COVID-19 data tracker reported on Monday that the state has seen 714,408 COVID cases across the state. There are 406 current hospitalizations, and a little more than 46 percent of the hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated.

If case numbers should rapidly increase in the following weeks, the Department of Public Health will have the final say on COVID rules, including the potential reinstation of mask mandates, according to WFSB.

In the meantime, mask mandates will roll back at the end of the month. Lamont said in his statement, "Going forward, while our authority to issue these emergency orders is expiring, I have no doubt that we will be able to faithfully continue collaborating with the legislature to enact policies that keep our state safe to the greatest extent possible."

Newsweek reached out to the Connecticut Department of Public Health for additional comment.

Washington, DC Mayor Imposes Mask Mandate And
Connecticut has extended its mask mandate in public schools until the end of the month as surrounding states have begun easing up on COVID-19 safety protocols. In this photo, people pass a sign that reads "Face Mask Required" in a mall as COVID-19 cases surge in the city on December 21, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images