The issue of whether students need to continue to wear masks while in school has been clouded with confusion in recent days.

While bureaucrats at all levels scramble to figure out just how they will adjust their guidelines, we believe that the mandate for indoor mask wearing for students should remain in place until the end of the school year, which is only about two weeks away.

The state muddled the issue last Friday with the release of a letter sent by state Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In it, he wrote that the state planned to change its guidelines on Monday, June 7 to say that indoor masking would "be strongly encouraged, but not required for students, campers, and staff/teachers/counselors who are not fully vaccinated."

The state Education Department clarified Sunday that masks would remain in effect for the time being, and said Zucker's letter was viewed as a request for guidance on the differences between mask wearing in schools versus summer camps.

On Monday, it was announced that school districts could make the choice to lift the mask mandate for outdoor activities only.

So the requirement for indoor masks at schools remains in place for now.

If the guidance from the state changes, it is likely that each school district will have to make its own choice on whether to keep the mandate for indoor mask wearing.

The local health departments will offer their guidance as well.

Masks have been worn in schools for the entire school year, beginning last fall when students were in school doing in-person learning.

It has been cumbersome and a point of contention for many. Students, parents, teachers and staff have endured the mask mandate, but many are ready to shed their coverings.

Yes, it is getting warmer outside and schools can be saunas on hot days, but putting up with masks a couple more weeks will be worth it if we can stem the spread of COVID-19 a bit longer.

The mask mandate has been lifted in many areas, and people are allowed to go to public settings without masks if they are fully vaccinated.

The public is warming up to that change as more and more events and public venues feature naked faces in the majority.

But in schools, most children are still not yet vaccinated.

They can still be positive for COVID-19 and spread the virus if they are asymptomatic and not know it.

That just seems like too big a risk to take in order to have a few days in school without masks.

In these final two weeks of school, we would encourage school administrators to make use of the outdoors as much as possible during school hours, weather permitting of course.

Kids love to have class outside as well as lunch, gym and recess.

Dealing with COVID-19 the past 15 months has been a challenge for everyone, especially educators who have had to manage an extremely difficult situation.

For the most part, we are pleased to see that teachers across our region have risen to the occasion and done their best to provide a quality education under these trying circumstances.

Hopefully, we can all hold on for a couple more weeks and see a safe end to this tumultuous school year.

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