School kids across the SouthCoast were celebrating yesterday as news about Governor Charlie Baker dropping the statewide mask mandate hit classrooms in Dartmouth, Wareham, and beyond.

The governor announced that when the mask mandate in schools expires on February 28th, it will not be renewed. While it was great news for some, it causes concern for others. If there's one thing for certain in all of this, there are differing opinions about the way to proceed forward with the pandemic.

The fact of the matter is that just because the governor is dropping the state's mask mandate, that doesn't necessarily mean that the individual local school districts will also drop the mandate. It means that local school districts will each have to make the decision on their own.

Do they want to follow the example of the state, or do they want to continue with mask mandates for students and staff?

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Some SouthCoast cities and towns like Dartmouth and Acushnet are scrambling to set emergency school committee meetings to deal with the situation. Dartmouth's school committee will be meeting on Monday night to discuss masks. Old Rochester Regional, Wareham and Westport will be leaving the decision up to their school committees as well. In Fairhaven, mandatory masks are a school committee policy. There will be a meeting next week to discuss and likely revise the policy.

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The situation in New Bedford is just a little bit different. According to a spokesperson for New Bedford Public Schools, the final decision will be made by the school superintendent. On August 9, 2021, the New Bedford School Committee voted to allow Superintendent Thomas Anderson to "make mask policy decisions without bringing it to the full committee."

Finally, what kind of voice, if any, will the teachers get in all of this? The teachers union is sure to have an opinion, but does that opinion reflect the wants of teachers all across the state?

My guess would be that teachers' opinions about whether or not to keep mandatory masks in schools would vary greatly from school to school and town to town.

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