All Student COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at Chenery Middle School, Thursday, Sept. 30

Photo: Shots for students this Thursday. (Image credit: CDC “Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine”)

The Belmont School District in partnership with VaxinateRx and Healthcare Family Pharmacy is offering two doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination series to all Belmont public school students ages 12 and up on Thursday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Chenery Middle School large community room.

According to Beth Rumley, director of nursing for the Belmont Public Schools, all students will be vaccinated free of charge regardless of insurance coverage. If insured please enter insurance information in the online registration. Once registered online there is no need to bring an insurance card to the clinic. 

A follow-up clinic for second doses will be held on Thursday, October 21, 2021, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Chenery large community room. An additional registration link will be provided to register for the second dose at a later time. Students who have already received their first dose of the Pfizer series at another location are welcome to register for either date to receive their second shot as long as there have been at least 3 weeks between doses. Please remember to send the vaccination card from the previous vaccination and consent form with your student.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW

  • Please register your child to receive the vaccine at: Appointment Quest Scheduler
  • After registering you will receive an email with a link to the consent form for vaccination (please check your spam folder if you do not receive it)
  • Please fill out and print the consent form to bring to the appointment
  • For anyone under the age of 18, a consent form signed by a parent/guardian must be presented in order to receive a vaccine
    • Parent/guardian does not need to be present as long as the child has a signed consent form

If you experience any issues with the registration process please email info@VaxinateRx.com  to resolve any issues.

Reminder: Please make sure to print and sign the consent form and have the student bring it to school on the day of the clinic. A Parent or Guardian signature is required for any students under the age of 18.  

Your child will receive a COVID vaccine card at the time of vaccination. PLEASE KEEP THIS CARD IN A SAFE PLACE. Your child will need it for the second dose.

Letter To The Editor: Belmont Needs Common Sense Policy On Student Covid Vaccination Mandate

Photo: The author believes Belmont should adopt a common sense approach to student vaccinations

To the editor:

In the last year and a half, I’ve made it a point to call my elderly Aunt Helen every week. Our conversations touch on a wide range of topics: politics, stories about my parents I’d never heard before, and regular family updates. Lately, Helen has shared stories that are more personal: experiences with her mentally ill father and her unfaithful husband whom she divorced, and sexual harassment and gender discrimination as a working single mom. Recently, I asked her, “How did you manage to get through all of that?”  Helen laughed and said, “I just thought of the story about the little engine that could and I told myself, I can, I must, I will.”  

Belmont needs a little of my Aunt Helen’s can-do attitude right about now. For the third school year in a row, we’ve struggled to maintain focus on where we want to be in the future and how to get there from a policy perspective. To be fair, the national political and scientific landscape is complex, dynamic, and divisive, and “guidance” from the state has been slow to come and sometimes unhelpful. As a consequence, our small town has become torn about the best ways to keep everyone safe and to return to a “normal life” whatever that means going forward.

We can and must do better. For starters, as it did with the universal indoor mask mandate, the Board of Health should follow the advice of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics by enacting a policy that mandates vaccinations against COVID-19 among all BPS students who are approved for vaccines by the FDA, presently 16 and older. Based on recent data provided by Belmont Superintendent John Phelan, student vaccinations seem to be stuck at the 80 percent mark, which means that hundreds of students who are eligible for vaccines have not yet gotten them. This represents a significant risk to public health and must be addressed.  

A vaccine mandate for students who are 16 and older will not ensure that all age-eligible students will get vaccinated, but it will send a powerful message to students and families that vaccines are normal and expected for participation in the Belmont Public Schools for all age groups once the FDA determines that the vaccine is safe. The policy can be written in such a way that families will know that they need to prioritize getting their children vaccinated as soon as their age brackets are approved under Emergency Use Authorization because, eventually, all age brackets will be approved by the FDA. This kind of policy will make it unnecessary for the School Committee to make vaccine policy in an ad hoc way every time a new age group gets approved, leaving time to discuss other essential business, such as academic achievement and the social-emotional wellbeing of our students, both of which have suffered in the last two years. 

A vaccine mandate, especially if the policy is enacted with a deadline before Thanksgiving, will not only make schools safer for students and their families by reducing the number of students who will become seriously infected as we head into the winter, it will also be a sign of good faith to our school nurses, the members of the Belmont teachers’ union, and other bargaining units who have agreed to mandatory vaccines that the community cares about their workplace safety.  

More than anything, by using its authority to enact this policy, the Belmont Board of Health will help us take a step in the direction of a future we all want for our children and ourselves, a world in which our children can play and attend school largely without masks and without dread of serious illness and death. As a small town with a strong commitment to local governance, we don’t need to wait for the Massachusetts Legislature, which we heard recently from State Senator Will Brownsberger will defer to the state’s Department of Public Health, to issue this common-sense policy. We can and we must take this important step ourselves to protect our community.   

Jeff Liberty

Worcester Street

Belmont MCAS Scores Dip In Covid-19 Year; Performance Exceeds Statewide Results

Photo: MCAS scores in Belmont and statewide slumped.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most recent MCAS test scores for Belmont students took a dip as the district struggled to provide a first rate education model during a worldwide pandemic. But with the exception of a sharp drop in the percentage of elementary and middle school students meeting or exceeding in math, the district performance held its own compared to scores for all Massachusetts students.

While the statewide scores showed some large discrepancies from grade to grade, “Belmont did not see the same degree of [downward] shift,” said Belmont Superintendent John Phelan at the Belmont School Committee on Tuesday, Sept. 21. Yet, Phelan said, “any shift is important to note.”

The statewide MCAS test results from the spring 2021 exam released by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Sept. 21 showed many more students had gaps in their knowledge of math and, to a lesser extent, English language arts, compared to students in the same grades before the COVID-19 pandemic, and fewer students meet or exceeded grade level expectations.

“Each percentage point is very, very important to us because they represent our students,” said Phelan. ”The real important work is to look at how each student … fared with this testing and use that data.”

“We tend to perform higher than the state average in all categories. So we’re thankful for that. But to be repetitive, we do have our own expectation of Belmont. We need to compare ourselves to what our goals are and that’s the work of the district moving forward,” said Phelan.

(The state did not administer MCAS tests in spring 2020, near the start of the pandemic, so the most recent year to compare with this year’s scores is 2019.)

In Belmont, 76 percent of students in grades 3-8 met Expectations or higher in English language arts in 2021, and 67 percent did so in math. Both of these represent a drop compared to 2019, when 80 percent scored at that level in English language arts and 81 percent did so in math. Still, Belmont’s 67 percent is nearly double the 34 percent of statewide students who are in the top two categories.

For 10th grade English language arts, 88 percent of students scored Meeting Expectations or higher in 2021, compared to 90 percent in 2019. In 10th grade math, 85 percent of students scored Meeting Expectations or higher in 2021, compared to 91 percent in 2019. These represent a slight drop when comparing 2019 to 2021. Like the elementary/middle school grades, Belmont high schoolers continue to exceed the scores of their state compatriots.

Phelan said the MCAS data will now be sent to the district’s academic directors and school principals to discuss how to utilize nearly $150,000 the district put aside to supporting students this year.

Having anticipated a likely drop in math scores in the early grades, Phelan said the district has allocated funds from its ESSR account – money sent by the federal government to school districts during the pandemic – to hire a pair of math coaches at the elementary level who will work primarily with third and fourth grade students. They also will be working at the middle school with students who need support.

Phelan said high school students will have less time to make up the drop in scores, the district will be reinforcing the skills all students have to know and be able to do before they leave Belmont High, said Phelan.

“We’ll be working with those students in those content areas moving forward,” he said.

Fines Out, Signs In As Select Board OKs Measured Adds To Town’s Mask Mandate

Photo: It was a full Zoom house as the Select and Health boards approved additions to the town’s mask mandate.

With opposition growing by members to a Health Board proposal to penalize store owners whose patrons repeatedly violate the town’s indoor mask mandate, the Belmont Select Board voted Monday, Sept. 20 to set aside a suggested $300 fine and replaced it with a watered-down compromise simply requiring businesses and large residential buildings to post signs informing the public of the town’s indoor mask mandate and ordering all employees to wear masks.

In addition, Belmont will delay implementing a vaccine mandate for town employees as it waits for possible action by the federal government on a proposed nationwide vaccine requirement for organizations with more than 100 workers.

The fine and employee mandate proposal was passed by the Health Board on Sept. 13 in response to the surge in positive cases of Covid-19 in town and across the country due in large part to the especially virulent Delta variant.

Donna David, the Health Board chair, said the recommendation “just gave teeth to what we were doing” in encouraging mask wearing. While admitting that enforcement could be “a little tricky’, the recommendation was no different to what the Health Department does when receiving complaints and food inspections.

“Like other health-related things in businesses, we’ve found the best to put the onus on the person who is responsible for the establishment,” said David, similar to enforcing the cigarette policy where the owner rather than the employee is ultimately the person who is held accountable.

Adam Dash, the Select Board chair, said the fine would “put a little ‘oomph’ behind what is already on the books.

While each of the board members supported some version of the fine, some where concerned the

Mark Paolillo worried that many businesses have “younger folks working behind the counter” who will be required to tell people to put on masks and they “say I’m not wearing a mask … [and] you set up a confrontation” because the owner doesn’t want to incur the fine. “That’s problematic,” said Paolillo who would rather see the individual violating the mandate fined.

Paolillo suggested the town should first discover if every business that is open to the public has been notified to have a sign at their location and if, in fact, they have one.

Epstein’s objection was the proposal was unworkable as Health Department employees would need to observe an incident with “an egregious violator” not wearing a face covering in the store.

”I just seems unworkable to me,” said Epstein.

Local businesses are also concerned with the introduction of financial penalties on the establishment because a patron is willing to violate the town’s mandate.

“There’s a help issue in small businesses … were struggling to get product in our stores and we’re struggling to retain customers. And for you to fine a customer or small business to me is ludicrous,” said Deran Muckjian, owner of the Toy Shop of Belmont in Belmont Center. He reiterated Paolillo’s worry that “a 16 year old Belmont High sophomore by himself in the store” will confront a 45 year old adult who says “No, I’m not going to wear [a mask.]”

“What do you do, how do you deal with that,” said Muckjian, who called the recommendations “a bunch of crap.”

By the end of the hour long discussion, the board coalesced behind Paolillo’s suggestion to require businesses have signs visible to customers and for managers of larger residential housing complexes to have signs in common areas that residents could congregate. The Health Board joined the Select Board in approving the new language to the mask mandate.

“I can live with that going forward. If we have issues, which I don’t expect … then we will come back to you,” said David.

While the employee vaccination mandate has taken a back seat to the federal government’s proposal, the town will be polling employees on their vaccination status. “If [the poll] shows we’re 99 percent or something, then maybe this is less of a driving concern,” said Dash.

Select Board Defers Vote On Vaccine Mandate, Fines For Unmasked Patrons

Photo: Debate over creating fines for violation of Belmont’s mask mandate has been delayed ‘til Sept. 20.

The Belmont Select Board decided at its scheduled meeting Monday, Sept. 13, to delay action on a pair of recommendations from the town’s Health Board mandating vaccinations for town employees and imposing fines on businesses and managers of public spaces which don’t enforce the town’s indoor mask requirement.

“We do not disagree with the recommendations necessarily. We’d like to get a little more data,” said Select Board Chair Adam Dash.

“We’re not disagreeing with the recommendations necessarily. We’d like to get a little more data,” said Select Board Chair Adam Dash.

The first recommendation would require all town employees to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. The second would impose a fine of $300 on businesses or large residential housing complexes which doesn’t enforce the town’s mask mandate.

Wesley Chin, Belmont’s Health Department director, said the pair of unanimous 3-0 votes were approved with the understanding the Select Board, working with the town’s Human Resources Department, would consult with the Town Counsel on implementing the employee mandate which would require negotiating with 11 of the town’s 12 unions. The Belmont Education Association last week approved a mandate for its members.

But before the Board could debate the mandate, the members tabled the recommendation after hearing from Town Administrator Patrice Garvin. She said both George Hall, the town’s general counsel, and the local Labor Council were asking the Board to wait on any vaccine requirement “because they’re still running some things down, especially with President Biden’s mandate.”

While saying he “conceptionally supports” the measure, Board member Mark Paolillo wanted to know if it was even in the town’s “purview to do something like this and how employees would react.”

Chin turned to the fines saying the addition of financial penalties to violations of the town’s face mask mandate were considered after his department received a number of complaints from concerned residents that “people just not wearing masks in indoor places that the public can access.”

Under the proposed amendment, if an incident is reported to the health department and the violation is observed, the Health Department would first provide a written warning to the business owner or manager. Subsequent violations would result in the issuance of a $300 fine for failure to comply with the mandate “to put pressure and motivate businesses to enforce massive mandates … inside of their locations,” said Chin.

Dash said establishing a financial sanction is not new. The town’s emergency order number two from March 2020 which created the mandate has similar language about the $300 fine but under that order the penalty was on the individual, not the store owner or manager.

“So the rationale is to change in focus: let’s put the pressure on the businesses to remind people that they have to wear masks,” said Dash who recalled his wife telling him when she visited a large store in town where “almost nobody was wearing a mask.”

“We’ve seen exactly what you’re talking about that some of these businesses were blowing it off entirely, said Dash.

When she asked who was enforcing the mask mandate and an employee said the workers were told not to do anything about it, as managers would enforce it. “‘Where’s the manager? He’s in the back,’” Dash was told. “So they’ve signs up on the door but no one was doing anything and no one was wearing masks,” he said.

In the case of residential buildings, Chin said complaints are coming from residents in larger apartment buildings where they were concerned about unmasked residents in common areas such as lobbies, fitness clubs, lounges, and hallways. “Apparently we’re not enforcing the rule,” the resident told Chin.

While understanding the need for fines to enforce compliance of the emergency health code, Paolillo also recognized the difficulty of having “a high school kid behind the register” attempt to manage and enforce the code.

The board also highlighted the difficulty of actually catching those violating the mask mandate in the act as the Heath Department is already burdened with multiple tasks to observe a meaningful number of violations and the police are busy with public safety.

“While virtually every Belmont business does have signs but [do they have] the staffing to confront potential violators is a real open question,” said Board member Roy Epstein, who noted to the board that with the general trend of positive Covid-19 cases falling, a mandate could be unnecessary in the near future.

With questions remaining unanswered, Dash proposed a joint meeting with the Board of Health on Sept. 20 to allow for a “give and take” on the issues.

“Then we might have some information on a vaccine mandate from the town counsel and labor councils at that point, maybe we can have a more comprehensive discussion,” said Dash.

Schools, Teachers Union OK Covid-19 Vaccination Mandate For All Staff

Photo: Mandated COVID vaccinations for all BEA members to begin soon

The Belmont School Committee and the Belmont Education Association (BEA) agreed to mandate COVID vaccinations for all BEA members in district schools for the 2021-2022 academic year, according to a press release from Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.

This agreement, voted on and ratified by the School Committee and the BEA on Thursday, Sept. 10, “is an important step to ensure a healthy school environment along with all the other mitigation strategies in place such as masking, pool testing, and test and stay programming,” said Phelan. The agreement comes as the federal government is moving forward with its own vaccination mandate for business with more than 100 employees and for all federal government employees.

The new vaccine requirement comes as the rate of Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks ending Sept. 10 has decreased for the first time since early July, according to the Belmont Board of Health. The average daily incidence rate per 100,000 people fell to 9.4 percent from 13.3 percent between Sept. 3 to Sept. 10, although the actual number of cases over that period jumped from 18 to 23 positive cases.

Despite High Vaccination Rate, Positive Delta COVID Cases On The Rise In Belmont

Photo: Positive cases of the Covid-19 delta variant on the rise in heavily vaccinated Belmont

With the percentage rate of vaccinated residents passing 70 percent and the number of residents who have been ‘jabbed’ closing in on 20,000, the rate of infection from the Covid-19 virus increased steadily in the past month, according to Belmont’s Health Department.

“Our numbers are ticking up,” Health Department Director Wesley Chin told the Select Board at its Monday, Aug. 30 meeting. In July Belmont had 25 total cases; so far with one day left in the August, there have been 92 postive cases. And up to half of those are “breakthrough” cases which occurs when a person who has been fully vaccinated becomes infected with the coronavirus.

Chin said after the Massachusetts Department of Public Heath conducted genomic sequencing of samples from Belmont, “to no surprise roughly 90 percent of our cases are related to the Delta variant.” The Delta variant of Covid-19 is roughly twice as infectious as the original virus, sending twice as many of those infected to the hospital than other variants. Thankfully, said Chin, “most of the individuals reporting and experience of minimal to moderate symptoms.”

“But I think of most concern what we’re noticing is we’re seeing spread in households. And so, if someone is infected with it, they’re bringing it home and it’s impacting other people in their home,” said Chin, noting that currently children under 12 can not be vaccinated.

“So the takeaway message is to be very careful when you’re out in public and indoor spaces. Make sure you wear a mask something to remember if, especially if you live to someone that’s unvaccinated or immunocompromised,” he said.

When asked what the town can do to promote vaccinations, Chin said it would be helpful to possibly partner with the school district “to see if we can in some way offer (vaccines) to that segment – elementary school students – of the population That would be a good thing to do.”

Schools Mask Mandate Will Stay Until The New Year: Board Of Health Chief

Photo: A sign you’ll see in schools by the holiday break

Parents and students hoping for a quick end to the mask mandate in Belmont schools – specifically for high school students – saw their wishes dashed as the head of the Belmont Board of Health believes masks will be a part of the school day up to the holiday break in the last weeks of December.

The declaration by Chair Donna David came during the Board of Health’s Aug. 16 meeting during which the board clarify aspects of the town-wide indoor mask mandate that passed on Aug. 6 as well as make clear that the schools and town will have different standards of when to end mask requirements.

Based on public feedback after the previous week’s Belmont School Committee’s, there was a desire to clarify the confusion of when the town-wide mask mandate would end in the Belmont schools, said Wesley Chin, Belmont’s Health Department director. Under a sunset clause in the town-wide directive, the face covering requirements will be lifted when Middlesex county records two consecutive weeks of lower infection rates.

In the board’s new plan, the schools’ mask mandate is now a separate from the town’s document. “Pretty simple and straightforward,” said David.

The new regulation states: “Face coverings are required for all individuals aged two years and above except where an individual is unable to wear a face covering dude to a medical condition disability.”

Under the new regulation, the board will incorporate guidance and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the state’s Department of Health to decide when the mask mandate will be dropped.

While the board will be monitoring the data and taking daily advice from the town’s health department, David said until the Covid-19 vaccine is available to children under 12 – both Pfizer and Moderna say they anticipate sharing results and seeking authorization for their vaccine in ages 5 to 11 as early as September or October – and the number of overall cases are declining, she doesn’t see a reason to remove the mandate and “this could easily be in effect through December.”

”This brings a little stability to what we’re doing and what our line of thinking is,” said David. Until the under 12 vaccine is available, “‘we’re kind of in a holding pattern because, in the schools particular, we’re doing this to protect those who cannot be vaccinated.”

The board also voted to bring greater clarity to the town’s mandate after receiving public comments on the document the Select Board approved last week.

The four clarifications are:

  • Indoor performers at public spaces such as the Beech Street Center, restaurants or schools are required to wear face coverings,
  • Private residences are excluded from the mandate,
  • Residents and employees in multi-unit homes and apartments are required to wear face coverings when inside common hallways and spaces, and
  • Members and employees in private membership clubs are required to wear face coverings while indoors.

“It’s not drastically different, just more detailed,” said Adam Dash, chair of the Select Board which reviewed the changes at its Monday night meeting.

Belmont Schools To Open Year Under Universal PreK-12 Mask Mandate

Photo: Belmont students will start the new school year wearing masks.

Belmont students and teachers throughout the district will be wearing masks to start the new school year beginning on Thursday, Sept. 9, after the Belmont School Committee at its Monday, Aug. 9 meeting accepted a town-wide universal mask mandate approved by the Board of Health and the Belmont Select Board on Friday, Aug. 6.

The committee will “revisit the mask policy and discuss strategies to increase vaccination rates” with the Health Board sometime at the end of September, according to the policy.

“I believe it’s really important to provide Belmont school families and staff with clarity about the masking plans and requirements for the beginning of the 2021-22 school year,” said School Board Chair Amy Checkoway.

Attended by approximately 200 via Zoom, the meet showed no sign of contentiousness or rancor seen at school committee meetings across the country – notably one held on Tuesday in Franklin, Tenn. – that resulted in anti-masking protests and threats of violence, while a Fox Entertainment personality claimed masking students is done to “terrify” them and anti-mandate decrees being issued by a handful of governors.

During the three hour meeting, Superintendent John Phelan presented the district’s proposed “Back to School Health/Safety Protocol Plan” for the 2021-22 school year created by the district’s Health Team. Its recommendations include:

  • Implement indoor masking for staff and students in accordance to the Aug. 6 town-wide decree.
  • Masks required on buses and at health clinics.
  • No mandate for outdoor activities or while students are at lunch.
  • Maximize distances in classrooms and cafeterias at the elementary and middle schools including providing outdoor space.
  • Encourage vaccinations for staff and students 12+ and host vaccination sites at schools.
  • Testing, quarantining and contract tracing is also recommended; the district is waiting for state guidance.

Phelan told the committee the district would be seeking direction on creating an indoor mask mandate for the entire student population and staff. The Health Team’s guidance would be provided by the state – using the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) – the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Phelan noted “there’s a lot of similar guidance” from the three sources and that included masking for all preschool and elementary school students as they currently can not be vaccinated. The one area Phelan said where the three entities differed is in-school masking for vaccinated student in 7th through 12th grade. While the AAP and CDC recommend masks, the state’s DPH advise masks if the student lives with someone who is not vaccinated or immunocompromised while DESE would allow vaccinated students to remain maskless while indoors.

Masking challenge for High School students

Since half of the grades at the Belmont’s Chenery Middle School fall under the elementary policy and the other half in the 7th to 12 range, Phelan said it was best that all students remained masked as the four grades will come in contact throughout the day. This left the School Committee to determine the masking in the traditional 9-12 high school grades.

Adrienne Allen, the Board of Health’s observer at the School Committee, told the committee that as a physician she was “very hopeful” two months ago that vaccinations would create a situation where mask use could safety be reduced. “But then things rapidly changed before our eyes with [the] Delta [variant],” she said, with the most disconcerting part being vaccinated people can spread the variant which is nearly as contagious as chickenpox.

With the overriding goal of the School Committee and district is to “keep kids in school as much as possible” while mitigating harm as much as possible, said Allen. And masking protects people from a source; for example, “if I had Covid and I’m wearing a mask, you’re protected. But it also protects other people.”

So if you want to keep students in school and protected, the schools should have a universal mask mandate, said Allen.

It soon became clear the Committee’s consensus was to start the school year with grades Pre-K to 12 masked. And each of the members agreed there will likely be a time when the mandate will be modified or ended. Coming to what that point was where the committee split.

For Jamal Saeh, the answer, for at least 7th to 12th grade pupils, was already baked into the town-wide mask mandate. Rather than reinvent the wheel, Saeh pointed to the town policy that says the mandate will end when the level of community transmission for Middlesex county as recorded by the CDC is designated as either low or moderate for two consecutive weeks.

But the other members pointed to the unique nature of the schools where, unlike the town-wide impact on stores, eateries and offices in which people may spend a few minutes to an hour, students and staff in schools are inside and interacting with dozens of fellow students for six hours or more.

Committee member Mike Crowley what masking does is helps the district “avoid disruptions that so rattled the community last year.” And while it’s impossible to know with any certainty what the coming year will bring but masking seems to be a fairly effective strategy.” For Crowley and others, rather than have a “ridged” standard as the town-mandate, the policy should be reviewed on a regular basis.

The committee did agree with Saeh that the first review of the mask mandate should take place in late September and also to advocate for increased vaccinations among students – those in 9th to 12th grades have about a 80 percent fully vaccination rate – with future discussion on a possible requirement that staff be vaccinated.

”If we learned one thing from last year, it’s that people value in person schooling,” said Committee member Andrea Prestwich, and masking not only tamps down Covid spread but also the flu and other respiratory illnesses “and takes some of the load off of our nursing staff.”

Belmont Enacts Town-Wide Indoor Mask Mandate Starting Monday

Photo: A town-wide mask mandate takes effect in Belmont at midnight, Aug. 9.

Belmont will enact a town-wide indoor mask mandate starting at midnight, Monday, Aug. 9, after the Health Board voted unanimously to approve the requirement and the Select Board endorsed the decision 3-0 at an emergency meeting held on Friday morning, Aug. 6.

The mandate will impact all establishments that has public indoor spaces including stores, eateries and offices. (See the order below) The town-wide regulation comes days after the Select Board placed a mask mandate on town buildings.

Belmont’s order mirrors the order passed by the community of Provincetown after the Cape Cod community saw a significant surge in infected residents despite having a 95 percent vaccination rate.

The return of the covering ordinance comes as the Covid-19 Delta variant is sweeping across the country increasing the number of positive coronavirus cases. After nearly a month when the town saw a single positive infection, Belmont has seen a significant uptick of 18 new cases over the past two weeks, with several being “breakthrough”, in which a fully vaccinated person is infected. The CDC has designated Middlesex county as having substantial level of infection.

The town-wide mandate will end when the level of community transmission for Middlesex county as recorded by the CDC is designated as either low or moderate for two consecutive weeks. That information is released by the CDC on Sunday afternoon.