Governor Lamont Leaves School Mask Mandates to Local Decision

Lamont hints at the future of the mask mandate at Morgan


On February 7, 2022, Connecticut Governor, Ned Lamont announced that he is currently working with Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani and Connecticut State Department of Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker in order to create a plan for the mask mandate in schools to end. By February 28, 2022, the mask mandate decision is left to each local school district. Governor Lamont does suggest that masks should still be worn in certain places including healthcare facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transit, and correctional facilities. Connecticut has seen a sharp decline in COVID cases due to the Omicron variant. Because of this improvement, along with the fact that all individuals over the age of five have the opportunity to get vaccinated, Lamont believes the necessity for masks in schools can be a local decision.

Laura Orn & Josephine Simon Working

This announcement left students, and staff at Morgan, and the Clinton community in controversy. Sophomore Julia Kelly says, “If [the mandate] was lifted, I would feel bad for people who are unable to get the vaccine”. Similarly, sophomore Sara Stack says, “I would be uncomfortable because I don’t know if people around me are sick or immune-compromised, and I don’t want to get sick, especially since there was an outbreak not long ago”. On the other hand, some students are excited about the possibility of not having to wear a mask to school anymore. 

Many staff members also have an opinion on the news. English teacher, Eric Peterson, says, “For me, I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other, but in this, and so many other issues, I feel like the smartest option is always to choose empathy. If it’s an issue that doesn’t cost me much, I will do what I can to make others feel good”. On the other hand, art teacher, Jessica Leiss says, “I think it should be up to the person. If you want to wear it, great. If you don’t want to wear it, great”. 

On Friday, February 18, 2022, Clinton Superintendent, Maryann O’Donnell, announced that Clinton will be allowing masks to be optional in schools. O’Donnell says that the administration is ensuring a safe in-person learning environment for students and staff. She also mentions that if students choose to continue wearing a mask to school, that choice will be supported by the administration. It is explained in the email that was sent to Clinton Public Schools parents that these are recommendations from the CT Department of Public Health (DPH) and are supported by the CT River Area Health District (CRAHD). 

Although the decision of wearing a mask in school is up to each student, and parent, masks will still be required when traveling on school buses. This includes all transportation to and from school, as well as athletic events. Along with this announcement comes enforced COVID guidelines that will still be followed at school. These include practicing social distancing, not attending school if you are ill, following quarantine and isolation protocols, and receiving a home COVID-19 test kit from the school health office if you become sick, and are showing symptoms.

Morgan Girls Basketball Playing in Masks

Some other Connecticut school districts have also made their decisions. Ansonia, Southington, and Madison, as well as many other towns, have made the decision to leave wearing a mask as a personal choice for each individual student. Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven have decided to keep the mask mandate in their school districts, at least until a later date. Berlin, Cromwell, Middletown, and others are waiting for more state guidance before making a decision for their districts.

This decision from Lamont created a bit of confusion and controversy for some. Even though the mask mandate is optional in Clinton schools beginning on March 1, 2022, the administration will still be recording all COVID cases in order to keep track of the progress and transmission of COVID-19 throughout the district.