PINE ISLAND — At a special meeting on Monday, the Pine Island School Board relaxed its mask mandate just a bit.

Starting Nov. 2, the first day of the new semester, students in grades 7-12 will no longer be required to wear masks, although masks will be strongly encouraged, according to a statement from the district administration.

The school board also removed the mask requirement in school buildings after 3:30 p.m., for visitors, staff and students. The exception is the district's Panther Pals after-school child care program, where masks will still be required.

As for younger students, the district policy still requires masks for anyone in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, but once those students are able to be vaccinated for COVID-19, the mask mandate will be lifted two weeks after vaccination. The mandate could also be removed if the transmission rate falls to low or moderate levels within the district.

However, the more stringent rules on masking could return for the older students if the transmission rate goes above 5 percent positive, and would then be relaxed again when the infection rate falls below 3 percent positive.

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Those changes will not require board action going forward, the policy states. The policy also does not mention whether unvaccinated adults should be required to wear a mask or not.