State school officials announced Tuesday they are extending the mask mandate for all Massachusetts public schools through at least Jan. 15.

In a statement, Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley said the decision came after consultation with medical experts and state health officials.

“Masks remain a simple and effective measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and keep students in school safely,” Mr. Riley said in the statement.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve Covid-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 in the coming weeks. Currently, only children 12 and over are eligible to be vaccinated.

State education secretary James Peyser noted that, with the expectation that the vaccine will be available to children, extending the mask mandate will provide time for many to be vaccinated.

Under the state mask mandate, all public school staff and all children aged five and older in all grades are required to wear masks indoors in schools, except when eating, drinking or during mask breaks. Visitors are also expected to wear a mask in school buildings, regardless of vaccination status.

While masks are not required for students younger than five years old, they are recommended. Students and staff who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, and students who cannot wear a mask for behavioral reasons are exempted from this requirement.

The statement noted that local schools can petition the state to lift the mask requirement if they can demonstrate to state school officials that at least 80 percent of all students and staff in a school building are vaccinated.