By CBSBoston.com Staff

BILLERICA (CBS) – The Massachusetts state education commissioner is likely to put a mask mandate in place for the start of school. It will affect all teachers and students. Currently, it is a decision that would be made by individual towns.

The decision is not sitting well with some parents. On Tuesday night, some Billerica parents protested, asking the town to unmask their kids in school.

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“Showing who we are. We are real people,” one woman said. “This is impacting families.”

“I just believe it’s a choice and it shouldn’t be mandated,” another woman said.

But the point is moot now. Earlier on Tuesday, the state’s education board gave the commissioner the power to implement a statewide mask mandate in all K-12 schools this fall.

Under the policy, all students and teachers will wear masks regardless of vaccination status until October 1. Then, the mandate will be lifted for middle and high school students, but only if their school has an 80 percent vaccination rate and at that time, unvaccinated kids will still have to mask up.

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The news did not stop parents from debating the issue at a long school committee meeting in Billerica Tuesday night, some grateful for a mask mandate for their young unvaccinated kids.

“The least that can be done to protect them, without the ability for them to stay home remotely this year, is for everyone to wear a mask,” one woman said at the meeting.

Others said if the rule is mask up, they’re out.

“I have since pulled her from entering first grade in the town of Billerica,” another woman said.

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There will be some exceptions to the mask mandate, including kids under five years old, as well as kids with behavioral needs or certain medical conditions.

CBSBoston.com Staff