By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) – The commissioner for the Department of Early Education and Care was granted the authority to require masks for childcare and after-school programs by a vote during a special meeting Tuesday.

This mandate would require masks indoors at all early education and care licensed sites.

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It would require all staff along with children five and older to wear masks while strongly encouraging masks for children 2-4 years old who can safely wear them.

“Foremost we want to encourage vaccine uptake among the adults with children, that’s our best line of defense while our youngest children aren’t able to be vaccinated,” Board of Early Education and Care Chair Nonie Lesaux said.

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The mandate would include exceptions for those who can’t wear masks because of medical conditions or behavioral needs.

“Over 150 towns have indicated an incident in family child care and over 1,300 center-based programs have had incidents in the past two weeks,” said Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy.

“This is something we anticipated would likely be coming,” said Christopher Vuk, founder and CEO of Rock and Roll Day Care in Cambridge. “I think there’s a lot of support in the parental community with the uptick in cases and the concern families have.”

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The commissioner also asked the board for permission to put more flexible policies in place to help address a workforce shortage in childcare. Staff