More and more Massachusetts school districts will require universal masking when the new school year begins in the coming days. On Wednesday, Fairhaven became the latest local school district to require masks, at least to begin the school year. The idea seems to have the approval of most folks in the Bay State, according to a new MassINC poll.

The survey states more than four out of five voters support requiring all people in school buildings to mask up regardless of age or vaccination status. The poll questioned 724 registered voters, 81 percent of whom said they support a mask mandate for anyone entering a Massachusetts school. Twelve percent of respondents were opposed to the idea of a mandate, while another seven percent didn't know or didn't answer the poll question.

Governor Charlie Baker continues to insist that the mask issue should be left to local communities to decide. Many communities including, New Bedford, Dartmouth, Westport, and Fairhaven, have already decided and will insist that masks be worn by all who enter a school building. Baker is under enormous pressure from lawmakers, educators, and medical associations in Massachusetts to impose a mask mandate for public schools and colleges.

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The MassINC poll suggests across-the-board support for universal masking in schools. Eighty-five percent of Democrats support a mask mandate, as do 69 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Independent or "other" voters.

There appears to be an awful lot of support for mandating mask usage in public schools in Massachusetts. I agree with Governor Baker that a statewide mask mandate is inappropriate and I disagree with the majority that seems to support the idea.

Whatever happened to my body, my choice, and individual liberties? This is, after all, Massachusetts, where it all began. I guess those principles are from a bygone era – you know, the pre-COVID era.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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