By Kristina Rex

SALEM (CBS) – All students and teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade in Salem Public Schools will be required to wear a mask in class this fall, regardless of vaccination status. The school committee voted to approve the mandatory mask requirement in a virtual meeting on Monday afternoon.

“We want to keep kids in school,” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll told WBZ. “We don’t want to go on a roller coaster ride of virtual this week, contact tracing, you’ve got to quarantine. That’s really disruptive to learning. It’s disruptive to staff.”

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The city of Salem could take the school mask mandate a step further on Tuesday night, when the Board of Health meets to vote on a proposal that would require mask wearing for all people in any indoor public spaces or businesses, regardless of vaccination status.

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“We are going to see an influx of tourists here who come from all throughout the globe and certainly a number of under vaccinated states and that is a concern when you have so many people in close quarters,” Mayor Driscoll told WBZ. She says the proposal was in part inspired by an outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta variant among vaccinated people in Provincetown.

Tourists in the city on Monday seemed to be OK with the proposal. “I wear pants, I wear a shirt, I can wear a mask,” one woman said. “I’m sick of COVID too but it’s there. I would love for it to go away but it’s here and we have to deal with it.”

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The city of Salem is also proposing a vaccine mandates for all city employees. Those who are not vaccinated would be subject to a COVID-19 test twice a week. This proposal will also have to be approved by the Board of Health at a meeting on Tuesday.

Kristina Rex