After new guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many Maine schools have opted to make masks optional.

What Does the U.S. CDC Say about Masks?

The new guidelines suggest that communities could drop their mask mandates, as the number of cases continues to decrease nationwide. CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky says it's up to the individual about what they want to do, going forward.

If people are interested in wearing a mask to feel safer, they certainly can, and anyone can go to the CDC website, find out the volume of disease in their community, and then make that personal decision.

Health officials say that there may come a day, in the near future, when we reach for masks again, but that communities, as a whole, could use a break.

How is Maine Responding to the New Guidelines?

Governor Janet Mills responded to the new information, saying it's time for Mainers to start feeling a sense of relief, as the number of hospitalizations continues to decline.

To that end, I have directed the Maine CDC to review this new Federal guidance in order to inform Maine's own recommendations as we enter a brighter, more hopeful period and take additional steps towards normalcy. Our guidance should be simple, straightforward, and reflect our assessment of the risk the virus poses in Maine.

The Maine CDC will offer updates in the coming days about how their department is responding to the new federal guidelines.

Some Schools Have Already Dropped the Mandate, Right?

Several school districts in Maine have already started making masks optional for teachers and students, or are planning to do so in the near future. Today marks the first day that face coverings are optional in RSU #19, while the Brewer School Department plans to make masking optional effective March 14th, provided the case numbers continue to go down.

RSU 19 serves the communities of Corinna, Dixmont, Etna, Hartland, Newport, Palmyra, Plymouth and St. Albans.

Once a school district makes masks optional, the onus is on the parents about what they want to do. Students and staff will be allowed to wear masks, if they want, or to go without, including on buses and in school vans. Of course, if the number of COVID-19 cases in Maine starts to increase, once again, the mandates could be put back into place. Parents should contact their school administrators about what their district is planning to do in the future.

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