WORCESTER (CBS) — With a tough school year winding to an end, state education officials have some promising news.

“In the fall at this time, all restrictions, including masks, have been lifted,” said Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley.

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It’s guidance he clarified during a meeting with school superintendents this week. Masks are recommended, but not required for summer school, and in the fall, kids can take their masks off.

“We should expect that when kids go back to school in the fall, they’re going to be going back to a school that looks and feels a lot like the one they went to before COVID,” said Governor Charlie Baker.

“They should be ready,” said Shammol Hylton as he pushed his young son on a swing. “I think that the year’s been a long time.”

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Local school boards will need to vote on the issue, and can still opt to keep their own mask requirements in place.

“There are populations of people here in Worcester who still have not gotten the vaccine, so that’s a concern,” said Worcester School Superintendent Maureen Binienda.

She hopes that will change by fall, for the sake of her schools.

“It’s difficult to teach when you’re wearing a mask, and you’re trying to project your voice,” she said.

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Both Riley and Baker said the mask guidance in schools could change depending on what happens this summer, but if COVID-19 case counts continue to drop, and vaccinations continue to increase, they say classrooms will be mask-free when students return.

Christina Hager