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Some Connecticut districts will require masks until the end of the school year

Children Wear Masks
Seth Wenig

Some Connecticut schools say they will require students to continue to wear face masks until the end of the school year, whether or not lawmakers extend Governor Ned Lamont’s emergency pandemic powers.

Ending the mask mandate in the middle of a school year is not a good idea, even if infection rates go down, said superintendent Michael Testani of Bridgeport, the state’s second largest public school district.

“We’ve been going for two years now with the mask. I think the natural end date to a mask and the start date without a mask would be the start of a new school year. I know that there are parents across the state that would be extremely angry at hearing that. But you have to factor into consideration the people who are working in the schools,” he said.

A recent survey of 5,500 public school employees in Connecticut found 60% didn’t feel they had the personal protection supplies and COVID-19 protocols in place to feel safe performing their jobs.

The governor’s pandemic emergency powers expire on February 15. He has asked lawmakers for an extension of some of those powers.

Connecticut would lose about $50 million in federal pandemic relief money if lawmakers decide not to extend his public health emergency powers when they expire, said Lamont.

We get a fair amount of federal support in terms of SNAP benefits and in terms of congregate care with 100% FEMA reimbursement. We would lose those federal monies if the Legislature decided to end the so-called emergency,” he said.

Republicans who hold the minority in the state General Assembly and some Democrats oppose the extension of the governor’s pandemic emergency powers.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.