SOUTHINGTON — A recent spike in COVID cases prompted town leaders to require masks for everyone entering town and school central office buildings.
The mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors will start Monday.
“This directive will remain in place until Southington has two consecutive weeks where it is not in the red or high transmission category,” Town Manager Mark Sciota wrote in a statement this week.
Sciota and Shane Lockwood, Plainville-Southington Regional Health Director, made the decision based on rising local case numbers. At a Town Council meeting earlier this week, he told council members that he was considering the safety precaution.
Victoria Triano, Town Council chairwoman and a Republican, said she’d hoped that case numbers would drop but that hasn’t happened. Southington has been reluctant to require masks in town buildings and took the measure much later than other towns and cities.
“Nobody likes masks, nobody wants masks,” Triano said. “We had hoped it would go back to a normal figure. It has not… Mark felt it was important, the health department felt it was important.”
She said town officials will be watching case numbers closely to determine when the mask mandate can be lifted.
“We don’t want to impose this on people willy-nilly,” she said. “This is something we need to be mindful of and keep our eyes on it.”Color designations
The state Department of Public Health color codes towns based on cases per 100,000 residents. Southington is in the highest category for cases, red, with more than 15 cases per 100,000 residents.
All the towns surrounding Southington are also in the red category with the exception of Berlin, which has 10 to 14 cases of COVID per 100,000 residents.
Most of the state was in the red or yellow category as of Friday.Masks in schools
Public school students will return to in-person learning next month wearing masks at least until the end of September. School officials say the policies, such as a mask requirement and no option for remote learning unless a student is being quarantined, are required by state directives.
School Superintendent Steve Madancy released information on the upcoming school year last week. His message reiterated what Board of Education members had said about state mask requirements earlier this month.
When parents and residents turned out for a board meeting on Aug. 12, many opposed requiring masks for students.
Terri Carmody, board chairwoman, said the issue wasn't up to local school boards and Southington schools would comply with state mandates.