CONCORD, NH– The state Department of Education on Wednesday issued the following Technical Advisory regarding the use of face masks in public schools:
The New Hampshire Division of Public Health updated its recommendations for the use of face coverings on February 23, 2022. This new guidance no longer recommends universal face mask use, in either indoor or outdoor settings, including specifically in school settings.
Prior to the issuance of this new health guidance and since the onset of the pandemic, the Department had maintained that school districts had the authority to require students to wear masks under their own school health and safety policies. See Ed 306.04(a)(2) and (22).
Given the new public health guidance released today, however, mask requirements in school policies are inconsistent with the Ed 306 rules. A mask requirement may violate the district’s obligation to maintain policies that “Meet the instructional needs of each individual student,” Ed 306.04(a)(6), “[p]romot[e] a school environment that is conducive to learning,” Ed 306.04(11), and that “[m]eets the special physical health needs of students.” Ed 306.04(a)(22). Therefore, consistent with prior public health recommendations, schools should transition to adopt these new public health recommendations as quickly as possible.
UPDATE, 7:34 p.m. – In response to the state announcement, Manchester School District released the following update:
Effective immediately, masks are now optional in all Manchester School District facilities. We are making this change in response to the updated health and safety guidance issued Wednesday by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Service. Please note: Masks are still required on school buses at this time.
This change means that students and staff are no longer required to wear face masks in school. Anyone who chooses to wear a mask can continue to do so, however. Masks have been one of the layers of mitigation to keep students and staff safe in schools. We still have multiple layers of mitigation in place, including enhanced air handling and cleaning procedures.
If you have questions about this change, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.