By Carol Britton Meyer
Even though Hingham Public Schools officials overall wish things were different -- with no need for a face mask policy for the new school year -- the School Committee unanimously approved this week, following an earlier lengthy discussion, a face coverings policy that's effective immediately.
That's because sports tryouts and activities related to back to school are already taking place, including at the individual schools.
This policy is in line with Commissioner of Education Jeffrey Riley's announcement this week of a statewide public schools indoors face mask mandate for K-12 students over the age of five, teachers, staff, and visitors. Face masks are not required outdoors.
The goal is to provide and maintain a safe environment in the town's six schools during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which HPS administrators say is critical to returning students to a continuing "full-time classroom learning experience."
There are some exceptions to this policy for those who have medical, behavioral or another challenge that makes it unsafe to wear a face mask or face covering.
The HPS policy is based on guidance from public health experts.
Committee member Michelle Ayer summed up the overarching goal: "trying to maintain a sense of normalcy while keeping our students safe, with a mask policy in place."
The policy will be reviewed on a regular basis as needed.