Bangor School Department to require masks inside school buildings

The reopening plan will go before the Bangor School Committee on Wednesday, August 18th for final approval
Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 9:44 AM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The Bangor School Department Superintendent says students, teachers and staff will follow the CDC recommendation to wear masks in school.

The CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.

“I’m sure there will be some kickback, but to me, this was an easy decision,” said Superintendent James Tager. “I’m going to always do what’s right for students.”

Tager made the announcement Monday morning. He explained the various instances when masks will be required.

All students and school employees will be required to wear masks while they are inside any school building.

All parents will be required to wear a mask once they enter a school building.

All people on public or private school-provided transport, including buses, vans, and sport related travel, are required to wear a mask.

Masks will not be required while students are outside.

Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have any signs of infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Bangor School Committee Chair Carin Sychterz. “It’s the best way that we can protect our students, our parents, our teachers, our staff members. We have so many people in our system that they can’t get a vaccine because of health issues. We have staff members who have children with cancer... So, I think it’s the best thing for us.”

While we don’t know what the decision would have been without the Delta variant’s prevalence, Tager says it did make an impact.

“At the end of the school year last year, I was very hopeful that we would not be in the place that we’re at right now. So, I think the Delta variant is a game changer, and there’s more concern about students who are unvaccinated, and younger students,” he said.

A planning committee of parents, teachers, nurses, administrators, and board members helped develop this reopening plan. They’re set to meet monthly to evaluate the policy. One factor they’re keeping a close eye on: possible expanded FDA approval of a COVID vaccine.

“When we hear about vaccines for students who are below 12, that might be a little bit of a light at the end of the tunnel, if I’d have to guess,” Tager said.

In the meantime, Sychterz says the students she’s talked to, including her own daughter, are on board with the plan.

“Right now, she and all her friends are -- we’ll do whatever you want us to do. We want activities. We want to go back to as normal as possible. We want to have lunch in the cafeteria. We want to see our friends again,” she said.

The reopening plan will go before the Bangor School Committee on Wednesday, August 18th for final approval. Sychterz says she expects it to pass.

“While wearing masks is a temporary inconvenience, it allows us to return to a more regular school environment with in-person learning for all students, extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, and the freedom to move more easily around our schools,” Tager said. “A copy of the 2021 reopening plan can be found on our website. If you have questions as to how this plan may impact your student, please contact your school’s Principal. I look forward to meeting you in person at school functions and community meetings.”

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