BOSTON (WHDH) - Students and staff at Boston Public Schools are being asked to mask up again for just over a week when they return in January.

Officials announced the decision on Friday, describing the move as part of an effort to “keep students healthy and minimize staff absences during this high-risk period.”

The temporary masking protocol for students will run from Wednesday, Jan. 4 through Friday, Jan. 13. Staff returning to schools on Jan. 3 are asked to wear a mask during that time, as well.

BPS officials emphasized that the protocol is not a mandate and that anyone who does not comply will not be sent home or disciplined.

“This is our ask and expectation of students and staff, not a mandate—which will be in effect during the school day on school premises and school buses,” the announcement stated. “BPS will provide disposable face masks to students or staff who need them. No one will be disciplined or sent home if they refuse to wear a mask. Masks will be available for student athletes at practices and games, but not expected.”

BPS will continue to supply bi-weekly iHealth Antigen Test Kits to students and staff, according to the announcement. School officials request that all students take a test Tuesday evening on Jan. 3 or Wednesday morning, Jan. 4, before the start of the school day.

Staff were also asked to take tests the day before they return to work on Jan. 3.

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