Future of school mask mandate remains unclear with executive order set to expire soon
Gov. Ned Lamont went to Blackham School in Bridgeport Monday where everyone is required to wear a mask, but for how much longer?
During the visit, Lamont said the statewide mandate should stay. It expires on Feb. 15, along with Connecticut's current COVID emergency declaration. Lamont is asking state lawmakers to temporarily codify the mask rule into law.
"I think it's a little early to make any predictions. We were just at a 25% infection rate two weeks ago," the governor said.
State lawmakers will have the final say. Lamont is asking them to pass 11 emergency orders into law.
In addition to mask rules, the governor wants to keep a booster requirement for nursing home workers. The governor also wants lawmakers to extend the state of emergency, although Lamont's office says he would not be able to issue new executive orders under the extension.
The top Republican in the state Senate wants school masking left to local school boards.
"We've always been in favor of local government -- the government closest to the people -- is the best government," said Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford). "If we're going to vote on these, I think they need to have a public hearing."
"I would be open to it if the metrics said we can do that safely. And I think we're getting closer to that. We're not there yet," Lamont said.
No matter what happens at the state level, masks will probably stay through the end of the school year in Bridgeport.
"I know there are parents across the state that will be extremely angry at hearing that, but you have to also factor into the consideration of the people that are working in the schools and the other kids," said Bridgeport School Superintendent Michael Testani.
'To heal, we must remember.' President Biden marks grim milestone as COVID-19 claims 1M US lives