CHELSEA — Starting after February vacation, Regional School Unit 12 masks will be optional for all students and staff members.

Superintendent Howie Tuttle said the decision came following a vote at the Feb. 10 board meeting to allow optional masking in the district if it became allowed under the Maine Center for Disease Control and Department of Education Standard Operating Procedures.

The change for Regional School Unit 12 will go into effect Monday, Feb. 28, which starts the week after February vacation.

“With this significant change, I would like to emphasize that all members of the RSU 12 community should feel comfortable with whatever option they choose and no one should be made to feel like they should or should not wear a mask,” Tuttle wrote in a letter to the community on Saturday. “We should all support each other in individual decisions around wearing of masks.”

Tuttle mentioned in his letter a few exceptions to optional masking. Masks will still have to be worn on the school bus through March 18, per federal law, and students or staff who test positive for COVID-19 will still have to quarantine for at least five days.

Other schools in the central Maine area have begun discussions on removing the mask mandate as cases across the state begin to decline. Oakland-based RSU 18 was the first district to announce it would drop the masking requirement, and Gardiner-based Maine School Administrative District 11 and the Augusta Public Schools will begin the discussion next week at school board meetings.

RSU 12 includes the towns of Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield and Windsor. The district has a student vaccination rate of 95%, according to the Maine CDC.


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