In Newton, Suzanne Szwarcewicz, an elementary school English-language learning teacher, said masks had presented challenges for young children who were native speakers of languages like Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hebrew and Spanish.

Last school year, Ms. Szwarcewicz experimented with teaching English in a mask with a clear plastic front so students could see the shapes her lips and tongue made while enunciating. But she gave that up when those masks quickly became damp and uncomfortable. She now uses videos to demonstrate proper pronunciation, and sometimes lowers her own mask briefly while standing several feet away from students.

Ms. Szwarcewicz said she would be comfortable with students taking off their masks, and would feel safe knowing her own mask offers protection. Still, she would gladly march in support of colleagues if her union voted to protest any relaxation of masking rules, she said.

The president of the Newton Teachers Association, Mike Zilles, indicated that there may, indeed, be resistance if the school committee chose to make masking voluntary. The state and district have recently eased in-school virus testing, contact tracing and quarantine procedures, leaving masks as an important remaining defense, he argued.

Feelings of pandemic burnout are common among teachers.

“We were thrown in there, asked to risk our lives, and nobody really acknowledged that,” Mr. Zilles said. “We were the guinea pig.”

Dr. Jha did acknowledge that academic studies were unlikely to sway those fearful of unmasked students, but said he anticipated consensus growing over time, as students in neighboring districts shed their face coverings without outbreaks.

“People have to emotionally and mentally get to a point where they are comfortable with this,” he said. “If the kids are all masked for the next two years, that’s a problem. I will push back pretty hard. But if they’re masked the next month or two, that’s fine.”

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