Back to school: what are the COVID-19 guidelines in Massachusetts?

EAST PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – Are COVID-19 booster shots necessary for school this year? Will your child have to wear a mask? What about testing?

Here is an overview of current COVID-19 safety recommendations from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) for schools:


COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are recommended for anyone 6 months or older. Health officials encourage schools to recommend vaccinations. For more information on vaccine availability and recall eligibility, visit DPHthe website of.


The state does not recommend universal mask mandates in schools, according to the DPH. Anyone who wishes to continue masking, such as those at higher risk, is encouraged to do so. Masking is never necessary in these environments when the person is eating, drinking, sleeping or outdoors.


Symptomatic people can stay in their school or program if they have mild symptoms, are tested immediately on the spot, and test negative. The DPH recommends wearing a mask as long as the symptoms last. For symptomatic people, the DPH suggests getting a second test within 48 hours if the initial test is negative.

If a symptomatic person cannot be tested immediately, they should be sent home and can return if:

  • Their test is negative and the symptoms remain mild
  • They have been fever free for 24 hours without the use of anti-fever medication and the symptoms are clearing up
  • A medical professional makes an alternative diagnosis

A negative test is strongly recommended before returning to school.

The DPH recommends that schools implement their own testing programs.

The tests are also available in pharmacies, doctors’ surgeries and respiratory clinics.

Positive test

All students and staff, including in childcare centers and recreational camps, must self-isolate for five days after testing positive.

Individuals can return to school settings after five days if they are asymptomatic or symptoms resolve, according to the DPH. They must wear a high quality mask until the 10th day.


Quarantine is no longer required or recommended for children, according to the DPH. If exposed, individuals can continue to attend school as long as they remain asymptomatic. Testing on day 6 after exposure and masking is recommended.

DPH no longer recommends schools use contact tracing.

About James K. Bonnette

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