Two cities, on two sides of the Penobscot River, are taking different paths when it comes to requiring school kids to wear masks.

The Bangor School Department announced their plan on Monday, stating that their schools would follow the Maine CDC recommendations and require masks in schools. This will include students, teachers, staff members, and visitors at any Kindergarten through 12th-grade school. Vaccination status will not change the mandate for anyone. Superintendent James Tager said, in a post on the department's Facebook page:

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 the schools.

 

In Brewer, the decision that was posted to the department's website and dated for August 8th takes a less restrictive approach to face coverings. The letter states that masks will not be required, at the opening of the school year. That being said, Superintendent Gregg Palmer says the schools will support anyone who wishes to wear a mask during school hours. The Delta variant, however, could change that decision, at any time.

To be clear, we will move to mask wearing if and when that's deemed necessary based on facts on the ground and as that information pertains to any potential impact in our schools.

He says the school plans to take part in pooled testing, which involves participating students taking their own nasal swab once a week, to be tested at a lab. If no cases of COVID-19 appear in that sample, no changes will be made. Students need to have permission from their parents to take part.

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Different approaches to the same issue. Perhaps Brewer's newer school, with all K-8 students educated under one roof, played a part in their decision. Or perhaps Bangor officials believe the Delta Variant will prompt a CDC mask mandate for students before the end of the school year.

Whatever their reasons, both school systems have the students' best interests at heart. They both agree that masks will not be required when students are outside. And, per the federal mandate, face coverings will be required for all students and staff on any district transportation, like school buses.

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