A Bangor High School student speaks at graduation on June 13, 2021. Credit: David Marino Jr. / BDN

Students in Bangor schools can take their masks off starting Wednesday after the state dropped its recommendation for school mask mandates, according to the superintendent.

Superintendent James Tager said in a Friday message to families that masks will no longer be required starting Wednesday. The decision is based on a recent announcement by the Mills administration that it’s no longer recommending mask requirements in schools and day cares as well as a local decline in cases, he said.

“I encourage all health concerned people to continue to wear a mask, as that is their personal choice,” Tager said in the letter to families.

The move by Bangor, Maine’s third largest city, follows other school systems across the state.

The Hermon School Department, for example, announced it will drop its mask requirement on March 14, and Brewer rescinded its mask mandate last week. Lewiston, Maine’s second largest city, has also made masks optional in its schools.

Meanwhile, students in Portland schools will still have to wear masks for the time being.

On Wednesday, Gov. Mills announced that the state is no longer recommending that schools and day care centers require masks.

The decision came after the Maine Department of Education and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said it would revisit the state’s masking recommendation following February break as COVID case counts and hospitalizations have declined following a winter surge.

Maine has not had a statewide mask mandate in schools since Gov. Janet Mills allowed a state of emergency to expire in June. Since then, those decisions have rested with local school officials.

BDN writer Leela Stockley contributed to this report.

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...