NEWTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy on Wednesday questioned the safety of the state’s decision to lift the school mask mandate on the day students return from February vacation.

“We all want to return to as much normalcy as possible, but to do it safely, we can’t just throw caution to the wind and drop the mask mandate the day students return from February vacation,” Najimy told 7NEWS.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley announced that the statewide mask requirement for K-12 schools and licensed child care providers will be lifted on Feb. 28.

Najimy says she is fearful of a COVID-19 surge among students and staff in the days following the school vacation week.

“We have enough experience with school vacations to know that there will likely be a surge upon return,” Najimy said. “We have consistently followed the CDC guidelines and the CDC has not changed their guidelines on masking yet.”

While teachers have been looking forward to ditching their masks, Najimy noted that there is a sense of anxiety among educators and a fear that the worst of the pandemic has yet to pass.

“Infection rates and hospital rates still need to drop,” Najimy said. “There’s news about other variants coming into play. There’s the anxiety of the uncertainty of what’s going to happen come the end of February vacation.”

The decision to lift the school mask requirement was made in consultation with infectious disease physicians, public health officials, and other medical experts, according to DESE.

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