Students arrive at The Haggerty School in Strawberry Hill on Sept. 9. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Cambridge Public Schools will make masks optional for students and staff starting Monday, mirroring a change for indoor businesses citywide. Superintendent Victoria Greer on Thursday called it a difficult decision and asked everyone in the school community to be on their best behavior – and not make others feel bad whether they stay masked against the spread of coronavirus or not.

“This has not been an easy decision, and I understand that it will evoke strong emotions for some,” Greer said in a video.

Educators expect that everyone will be respected, valued and supported, Greer said, “regardless of their personal choice or belief. We will not tolerate any stigmatizing or isolating behaviors related to choices that students make or staff make regarding masking.”

Not everyone will be “happy and relieved” that masks are no longer required in schools, said Derrick Neal, the city’s chief public health officer. “If a student or staff member chooses to wear a mask to protect themselves or a family member who is at high risk, we applaud that choice,” Neal said. “Risk ranges from person to person, as we all know, and from family to family, and we need the entire CPS community to respect the individual choices that different people will make.”

Greer called the lifting of the mask requirement “a hopeful end to managing Covid as a crisis,” but both officials said the school district and city will monitor Covid trends carefully and change rules based on how infection rates trend.

Mask are still required in nurses’ offices, per state guidelines, Greer said.