One of the state's top Democrats is challenging Gov. Charlie Baker's decision to privilege local options that allow students and staff to go maskless when schools reopen this fall.

Senate president Karen Spilka is calling on Baker to mandate masks in schools, where students under twelve years old are still ineligible for vaccination.

"Parents, school staff and students seek clear, consistent direction as the school year starts, and they deserve to get it from the state. That’s why I am calling on the Baker Administration to require masks in school this fall," Spilka wrote in a statement released Friday.

Teacher unions allied with Spilka and Democrats have also demanded masks in the classroom.

"No one wants to go back to the dark early days of this public health crisis, and so we must do everything possible to keep people safe and our economy stable. Wearing a mask around vulnerable populations, including unvaccinated children and others, is a small and simple action we can take to do this," Spilka wrote.

Baker has advised schools that they should require masks, but he is leaving the final decision on whether or not to require face coverings to local district officials.

The governor and his aides have avoided answering questions about whether Baker has the legal authority to order a school mask mandate.

When asked last week about his legal authority to make state-wide orders, Baker told reporters to "talk to the lawyers." Follow-up questions and a request to speak to Baker's legal team have gone unanswered.