Massachusetts Governor Baker says that he doesn't want to institute a state-wide mandate for masks in schools, he's leaving the decision up to individual municipalities.

A recent MassINC poll found that 81% of registered voters support a state-wide mandate. But if so many people are in favor of masking, why would we need a mandate? Isn't it reasonable to assume that anyone in favor of the mandate would also wear masks voluntarily, and make their children do so?

When asked why he's not mandating masks, he responded:

We made a strong recommendation on this, and as I said, I believe the vast majority, if not all, school districts are going to adopt that recommendation, which I think is a good thing.

Yet many people still seem to be criticizing Baker for his approach. If virtually all unvaccinated students will be masked under the current approach, what's the problem? This is far different from the states where the governor is actively prohibiting local mandates.

  • 1
    Because it's weak and doesn't allow localities asking people to follow the recommendation any way to back it up if someone/some group refuses.
    – Jontia
    Aug 20, 2021 at 15:22
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    Because 19% still don't. Why should we mandate sober driving if 81% of people were going to drive sober anyway? Aug 20, 2021 at 15:28
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    @Jontia The localties aren't "asking", they're mandating. They have local police departments who can back it up.
    – Barmar
    Aug 20, 2021 at 15:47
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    @user253751 Being against mask mandates is not the same as being against masks. And being against a statewide mandate is not the same as being against local mandates.
    – Barmar
    Aug 20, 2021 at 15:49
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    Just because masks are popular doesn't mean everyone is wearing them
    – Joe W
    Aug 20, 2021 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


There are a couple of key reasons.

  1. Just because 81% of the population supports a mask mandate doesn't mean 81% of the population is wearing masks
  2. The 19% of the population that doesn't support it is unlikely to be wearing masks

There are already cases where students are attending school with a positive covid test. In those cases wearing a mask could help limit the impact those students have on their peers. And in these cases it is unlikely that they would be wearing a mask which is something a mask mandate would prevent.


Eighty students from a school in Reno, Nev., could have been exposed to the coronavirus after a fellow student who received a positive test attended school two days later, according to CNN.

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    1. Being against a mandate doesn't mean you're against masking, it often means you're against government overreach. Or you think it should be a local decision, not statewide.
    – Barmar
    Aug 20, 2021 at 16:24
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    @Barmar You are missing the points 1) being for a mask mandate doesn't mean you are wearing a mask 2) Just because the schools enforce it doesn't mean that it can't spread in other places that don't have requirements 3) Again, you missed the critical point which is that people are going out in public when they know they are infected which means masks are critical for preventing it 4) in the end this is a form of protection that is really no different than a law requiring you to wear a seatbelt or wear a helmet on a bike and is for everyone's protection.
    – Joe W
    Aug 20, 2021 at 17:49
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    My point is that you keep bringing up things that wouldn't be addressed by the mandate in the first place. The poll was about masks in schools, so what people do in other public places is irrelevant. And if someone were in favor of mask mandates in schools, and they went to a school that had a "Masks required" sign on the door, would they really disobey it just because there's no statewide mandate? I didn't see anyone objecting when I went to the Apple Store and they asked us to mask up.
    – Barmar
    Aug 20, 2021 at 19:00
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    @JoeW "What is the difference between wearing a mask because a local school tells you and the state tells you?" The average voter has much more influence over local decisions than state decisions. There is more legitimacy behind a decision made locally than one made statewide.
    – Ryan_L
    Aug 20, 2021 at 20:34
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    I'm not against wearing masks, but why is the consensus opinion that we have to force others? People might have reasons not to wear them that we're not even capable of understanding.
    – elvis
    Aug 21, 2021 at 21:17

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