Poll shows strong support for school mask mandate
81% of residents favor requiring face coverings when school resumes
WHILE GOV. CHARLIE BAKER continues to resist imposing a statewide mask mandate for Massachusetts schools, new poll results show strong public support for such a measure.
According to a new survey from the MassINC Polling Group, 81 percent of Massachusetts registered voters say they strongly support or somewhat support a policy requiring masks for anyone in a Massachusetts public school this fall.
Support was higher among Democrats than among Republicans or independents, slighter higher among women than men, and greater among older residents. But it was still 69 percent or greater among every demographic subgroup the poll looked at.
“Support for school mask proposals is very high,” said Steve Koczela, president of MassINC Polling Group. “And despite what you hear at local meetings, opponents do not represent a large portion of the population.”
After days of pushing back against the suggestion that he order a statewide mandate, Baker said on Wednesday that he expects virtually all unvaccinated K-12 students will wear masks anyway.
“I believe, based on what I’ve heard from our colleagues in local government, that the vast majority, if not all, K-through-six programs in Massachusetts are going to have a mask requirement for their unvaccinated students until such time that the vaccine is available and can be applied to their kids,” Baker said in an appearance on GBH radio. Children under 12 are currently not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Baker said he expects that “virtually every” K-6 student and unvaccinated student 12 and older will wear a mask in school.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance urging “universal indoor masking” for all students, teachers, staff, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
On Tuesday, the presidents of the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians released a joint statement urging Baker to order mask wearing by anyone going into a Massachusetts school this fall.“Masking is a public health measure proven to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, and decreasing transmission is critically important now as data have shown an increase in the number of children and adults who have contracted the easily transmissible Delta variant of the virus,” the doctors said in the statement. “It is imperative that Massachusetts teachers, staff, students, and visitors start this school year with uniform masking requirements to protect them and those with whom they live and interact outside of the academic setting.”
Boston Public Schools have announced that masks will be required in all schools this fall.