Superintendent: Masks optional in Milford schools starting Feb. 28

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Milford School Supt. Dr. Anna Cutaia

Milford School Supt. Dr. Anna Cutaia

Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

MILFORD — Wearing masks will become optional in city schools starting Feb. 28.

Superintendent Anna Cutaia informed the school community Friday that starting on that date students and staff would no longer be required to wear masks in school buildings — a sight that has become the norm for more than two years since the onset of the pandemic.

“It is our belief that it is time to make mask-wearing optional in our schools for all PK to 12 students and staff,” Cutaia said.

“We understand that this change will impact students, staff and families differently,” Cutaia added. “We want to highlight for all the environment of mutual respect and care we have built in our schools and encourage everyone to support individual decisions on mask wearing — whether individuals choose to continue to mask or remove masks — as we move into a mask-optional environment.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Ned Lamont recommended that requiring masks in schools by students and staff end on Feb. 28. The state legislature, after votes in both the House and Senate, approved the extension of the governor’s executive order on masks until Feb. 28.

With those votes complete, Lamont last week officially eliminated the statewide school mask requirement.

“Under Dr. Cutaia's leadership, Milford Public Schools administration and staff have worked tirelessly to keep our schools open and some 6,500 members of the school community safe,” Board of Education Chair Susan Glennon.

“The Board has every confidence that Dr. Cutaia's decision-making will continue to reflect the same thoughtfulness, due diligence, and care for all as it has throughout this pandemic,” Glennon added.

Cutaia said that while masking is not required in schools, federal regulations still mandate face coverings on public transportation, which includes school buses. She said this mandate is not within the control of local or state officials.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Cutaia said, the district has consistently made decisions relating to school operation based on health metrics, social and emotional needs, academic priorities, availability of resources, and human resources.

“The use of these factors has been effective in the past and we will continue to keep them as our cornerstones for decision-making as we go forward,” Cutaia said.

Cutaia said the district closely monitors school and community transmission rates, vaccination coverage rates, test positivity, and several other factors regularly reported by the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

“Although we observed significant spikes in positive COVID-19 cases during the holiday season, these numbers have dropped substantially,” Cutaia said. “We are greatly encouraged by this trend and optimistic that this downward pattern will continue.”

In accordance with the CDC guidelines, Cutaia said individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, who are no longer experiencing symptoms after five days of isolation, and wish to return to school, are recommended to continue wearing a mask for the additional five days.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Connecticut State Department of Education are in the process of providing public health guidance for Connecticut’s schools. Cutaia said the guidance will advise schools on how to manage COVID-19 safely as part of a routine disease prevention model and will be communicated to the community once received.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com