Despite Gov. Baker Ending State Mask Mandate Feb. 28, Belmont Schools Will Wait Until School Committee Decision March 8

Photo: Belmont School Committee will likely vote on the future of the mask mandate on March 8

The Belmont School District will keep its mask mandate in effect until at least Tuesday, March 8 despite Gov. Charlie Baker’s recent announcement calling for the lifting of the state’s school mask requirement on Monday, Feb. 28.

Belmont Schools Superintendent John Phelan said in a press release the district will wait for both the Belmont Board of Health and the School Committee to discuss and then possibly vote on the future of its mask mandate on Monday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 8 respectively.

At its Monday, Feb. 7 meeting, the Health Board said it would be revisiting the issue at its next meeting on March 7 when it will review the latest state and county data on Covid-19 infection and hospitalization rates with the goal of possibly lifting the town-wide mandate which includes the six Belmont public schools.

Two days later, on Wednesday, Feb. 9, Baker and the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced the end of the state mask mandate, at which time, “masking policies will revert to local control.”

“In response to this updated information and given the Board of Health’s schedule, the School Committee plans to discuss this matter at their March 8, 2022 meeting,” said Phelan.

A New York Times article, “Why Liberal Suburbs Face a New Round of School Mask Battles” dated Feb. 10 points to the competing camps and difficult decision the Health Board and School Committee will face on the future of masks in Belmont schools.

Thanks, Charlie: New Governor Sends Extra Cash for Roads to Belmont

Immigrants were told American streets were paved with gold. Last week, Charlie Baker sent Bay State towns some extra greenbacks to simply pave the streets.

On Wednesday, Jan. 8, on his first full day in office, the newly-installed Massachusetts Governor released an additional $100 million of Chapter 90 funding to Massachusetts communities.

Belmont’s share comes to an extra $266,000 for the town’s roadways and sidewalks.

Chapter 90 reimburses cities and towns for costs incurred for eligible transportation projects. Cities and towns must submit receipts to the state’s Highway Department which verifies if the expenditures qualify for reimbursement..

The money comes from an initial $300 million Chapter 90 funding in the state’s the fiscal year 2015 transportation bond bill that passed the legislature last year.

But then-Gov. Patrick said state revenues would be insufficient to support the entire borrowing and released $200 million.

According to Belmont Town Administrator David Kale, the town received $534,000 from the state for transportation-related projects.

While the money will be coming to town, a question remains when to spend the funds. Kale said he was in discussions with town counsel to determine if the money is required to be spent as part of the current fiscal year 2015 budget or allocated towards the fiscal 2016 town budget.

Whether it will be used today or towards the 2016 budget, “the money must be used for transportation purposes,” said Kale.