August 23, 2021
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this finds you all healthy and safe. Below are updates about state and national responses to the ongoing pandemic. We will continue to keep you apprised of available resources and trusted sources of information regarding the public health crisis. Please let us know if we can be of assistance.

Very truly yours, Joan Meschino
Baker-Polito Administration Announces Staff Vaccination Requirements
As the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to spread and in order to protect Massachusetts residents, the Baker-Polito Administration now requires that executive branch staff and other key employees receive vaccinations.

  • Long Term Care providers must ensure all personnel are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 10, 2021. Read here for more information.

  • All Executive Department employees are required to be vaccinated by October 17, 2021. Read here for more information.
Education Commissioner Riley to Ask Board to Grant Authority to Mandate Masks for All K-12 Public Schools to Provide Time to Increase Vaccinations
On Tuesday, August 24,2021, Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley intends to seek authority from the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to mandate masks for all public K-12 students, educators, and staff from the start of school through October 1 to ensure schools reopen safely and to provide time for more students and educators to get vaccinated. After October 1, the proposed policy would allow middle and high schools to lift the mask mandate for vaccinated students and staff only if the school meets a certain vaccination rate – at least 80 percent of students and staff in a school building are vaccinated. Unvaccinated students and staff would still be required to wear masks. The mask mandate will include exemptions for students who cannot wear a mask due to medical conditions or behavioral needs and would only apply indoors and to children 5 and older.

The Special Board meeting regarding the mask mandate is Tuesday, August 24. The agenda and a link to watch the meeting via livestream are posted to the DESE website.
Updates on Additional Vaccine Doses and Booster Shots
Research on the long-term efficacy of the vaccine continues.

  • On August 12, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to allow for the use of an additional dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

  • On August 19, the CDC officially recommended that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine after the initial 2 doses. You can read more on the CDC's website. This does not include people who are not immunocompromised.

  • On August 18, 2021, public health and medical experts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concluded that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability. Booster shots for all Americans is expected to begin the week of September 20th and starting 8 months after an individual's second dose.
COVID-19 Vaccination Safe for Pregnant People
On August 11, 2021, the CDC released new data on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people and recommends all people 12 years of age and older get vaccinated against COVID-19. A new CDC analysis did not find an increased risk of miscarriage among nearly 2,500 pregnant women who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Prior data from three safety monitoring systems found no safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated late in pregnancy or for their babies. Combined, these data and the known severe risks of COVID-19 during pregnancy demonstrate that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant people outweigh any known or potential risks.
Information on the Delta Variant
The delta variant is spreading rapidly across the globe, and fuels new outbreaks in the U.S., mainly among the unvaccinated.

For more information on the delta variant and other variants of COVID-19, visit the CDC's website here.
Important Links and Resources

  • Finding healthy foods tool

  • website for parents of school-aged children in Massachusetts concerned about their child's mental health.

  • Massachusetts residents can seek COVID-19 testing through the Stop the Spread Initiative which provides free testing in high-priority locations.

  • DESE's report on the number of positive COVID-19 cases in schools.

  • SafeLink 24/7 Crisis Hotline for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: 877-785-2020.

Stay Informed
Visit your town websites to learn the most recent information, local services, and guidance from our municipal officials.

State Resources

Federal Resources
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