Dana Hall goes mask-optional

As of Monday, February 28, Dana Hall has dropped its mask mandate and is now mask-optional, a new policy that Katherine Bradley, Head of School, announced two weeks beforehand. Over the first two weeks of the new policy, more and more people have gone maskless.

This change in policy came after Governor Charlie Baker’s statement on February 9 that “the mask mandate for K-12 schools in the Commonwealth will not be extended beyond February 28.” Although as a private school Dana Hall was never required to follow the state’s mask mandates, the School has followed the guidelines set by the state closely throughout the two-year pandemic.

The School also announced that it will be requiring Covid-19 tests after Spring Break, but after that there will not be weekly testing. Students and staff continue to be required to wear masks on buses, due to federal law. It has not yet been announced if sports teams have to wear masks against opponents from other schools.

In her February 14 email, Ms. Bradley wrote, “All individuals, whether they opt to wear a mask or not, have the full support of our community.” 

Students expressed their excitement for returning to normalcy. Rayray Afif ‘24 said, “This pandemic has been going on for so long, I am glad it’s finally changing.” Imogen Mistry ‘24 said, “I think it’s a good thing. It was going to happen eventually.”

However, many students are more skeptical of these new protocols. One worry students have is that the Covid virus will spread among unvaccinated individuals who opt out of wearing a mask. Sophia George ‘25 said, “Unvaccinated people know they should wear masks, but if nobody else is, they’re going to follow the social vibe.” 

Several students said they are going to follow what the rest of the community does. Eva Bogan ‘24 said, “It depends on what other people do. I’m just going to go with the flow, but I will definitely be a lot more relaxed about mask wearing.” She also said she will continue to keep a mask in her bag. Even with it no longer being a requirement, many students said they will continue to wear their masks in large groups. Tamia Silvera ‘24 said, “I will probably wear a mask in school, but less in the dorms.”

Another concern many students have is the lack of regular testing. Samantha Wolf ‘24 said, “I think it’s exciting, but I still think we should get tested more, especially after Spring Break.” 

The quarantine policies for members of the community who test positive remain the same: staying home for at least five days after testing positive, and longer if symptoms are still present. Close contact procedures also remain the same. People who are fully vaccinated are still required to test after five days, and those who are unvaccinated must test every day for five days.

Despite Governor Baker’s recent statement regarding the update in protocols via Twitter, many schools have yet to announce if they will switch to mask-optional protocols. However, several schools in the area have announced their plan to lift the mandate when students return from the public school February break. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to change the protocols is up to individual school districts. Following the surge of the new Omicron variant, Michelle Wu, the mayor of Boston, announced students and faculty in Boston public schools will continue to be required to wear masks.

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