By Paul Burton

NEWTON (CBS) – It’s the end of the third week for Newton Public Schools and students and faculty are adhering to the indoor mask mandate. Seventh grader Pranav Raman says he doesn’t mind. “I really like having masks on. I am fine with it,” Raman said.

Right now, all Massachusetts public schools students and staff are required to wear masks inside school buildings. But come October 1, schools that have 80% or more of their students and staff fully vaccinated will be allowed to drop the mandate for vaccinated people only.

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And as COVID cases continue to rise, Newton Public Schools Superintendent David Fleishman says he has no intention of lifting the mandate after October 1.

“We made the decision before the state mandate about masking,” Fleishman said. “We have a medical advisory board who advised us to have everyone masked in school, so that is our plan for the foreseeable future.”

Several schools across the state do qualify to remove the masks indoors according to the 80% vaccination mandate including Newton, but Fleishman says now is not the time let his guard down.

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“We have six grades where students are eligible to be vaccinated and three of those grades, as of a week ago, were over 80% but we are obviously always striving to get that number higher,” Fleishman said.

Newton Public Schools will continue with COVID testing for the foreseeable future. Right now, it’s still unclear if they will continue wearing masks for the rest of the school year. Officials say they will rely on the advice of their medical team and the state mandate.

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“Right now we are so committed to keeping our schools open and we know masking works,” Fleishman said. “We’ve got to continue with in person learning and there is really no other option.”

Paul Burton