POLAND — Masks may soon become optional in Regional School Unit 16.

The Education Policy Committee said Tuesday it is recommending the school board change its rules, reflecting a growing trend across Maine to move away from mandatory face coverings aimed at thwarting the spread of COVID-19.

The panel suggested that the district, which includes Poland, Mechanic Falls and Minot, revise its masking metrics to make coverings optional if pool testing or vaccination rates are good enough.

Under its suggested metrics, the district would drop, at today’s rates, the mandatory mask rule.

The school board is slated to meet Monday, March 14. If its members agree, the change would take effect March 15.

Superintendent Ken Healey and Assistant Superintendent Amy Hediger said in a joint statement that the district has “navigated these difficult times together” for the past two years.

“We have worked hard to ensure a layered approach to make sure our students and staff are safe at school and on our buses and vans,” they said.

“We have vaccinations, access to free at-home tests, understand the importance of physical distancing and hand sanitizing, and upgraded ventilation systems,” they said. “These tools will continue to be part of our approach even if we make the move to masks optional on March 15.”

Many other districts are taking similar approaches, dropping mask mandates or weighing whether to leave them in place.

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