By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) – A statewide mask mandate for Massachusetts schools officially went into effect on Wednesday afternoon.

Effective immediately, all public school students age 5 and above, staff and visitors are required to wear masks indoors in schools. Masks are not required when outdoors.

READ MORE: Town By Town School Aged Vaccination Rates

On Tuesday, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education held a special meeting and voted to grant state education commissioner Jeffrey Riley the authority to put a universal school mask mandate in place.

“I want to be clear that we are hopeful this will be a short term measure,” Riley said during the meeting Tuesday.

As of October 1, the mandate would be lifted for middle and high school students if the school has a vaccination rate of at least 80%, but unvaccinated students would still have to wear masks.

The mask requirement does not apply when students are eating, drinking, or during mask breaks. Masks will be required for student-athletes and coaches during any indoor sports activities.

The state mandate has exceptions for students under the age of five and for those who can’t wear a mask for medical reasons or behavioral needs. Staff