State Rep. Harry Arora: School mask mandate: ON or OFF?

Posted on February 12, 2022

The Governor’s Emergency Orders expire on February 15, 2022. Last week, the Governor asked the legislature to extend various Executive Orders, including the one on school mask mandates. However on Monday he announced in a press conference that he would relax the school mask mandate. That dichotomy has created confusion, many are asking – is the mask mandate ON or OFF? Here are the exact details:

1. The Governor asked the legislature to extend 11 Executive orders to different end dates ranging from March 15 to June 30. The legislature voted on this bill yesterday, Feb 10th, and passed it. Here is a LINK to the vote for HB 5047. As a result of this bill, the school administration’s mask mandate authority has been extended to June 30. The administration wants to continue having the power to impose such mandates if the infection rates rise or a new variant emerges. I voted against the bill because I believe it is time to get back to normalcy and end emergency authority.

2. While the administration will continue to have that authority, they have committed to delegating it to local town officials effective February 28. It is expected that they will issue guidance over the next few days authorizing specific local authorities (BOE or Superintendent) to make that decision. The Board of Education in each of the 169 towns in CT will then have to formalize that decision. BOE members in many towns around the state, including our town, have already indicated that they will be ending the mask mandate on February 28 and making masks a choice. I am worried that these discussions will create further division and conflict in our communities. For that reason, I believe it would have been better to end the mask mandate authority than to delegate it to local school boards.

3. Many in our community have pressed the administration to clarify the conditions under which they would reimpose this mandate. The administration has not provided any specific metrics and has indicated they would base their decisions on subjective assessments of various factors.

Please click HERE to see the list of all executive orders extended.