As school year approaches, parents sound off on mask concerns

School Updates

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When it comes to students and teachers wearing masks when they return to the classroom in the fall, local parents have been offering varying perspectives.

Stephanie Meuse, an East Providence parent who teaches in Central Falls, told 12 News she believes mask-wearing in schools should be the standard.

But as it stands, Gov. Dan McKee has said he will not impose a statewide mandate, opting instead to “strongly recommend” that districts require masks in schools.

“This year, it sort of feels like, ‘Welcome back to school. Good luck,'” Meuse said. “It really should just be a given, and we should be able to talk about other things, like school districts mandating vaccines for teachers and eligible students.”

Meuse is also the founder of R.I. Parents/Educators for Safe Schools, a group that held rallies advocating for distance learning last year.

“There’s no longer an option for distance learning, and in many districts, we are seeing there’s not even mask mandates, no possibility to social distance with 100% of students returning, and really just no plan,” Meuse added.

12 News spoke to other parents who think masks should be mandated, while others disagreed, saying it shouldn’t be up to the schools.

“It’s uncomfortable, you feel like you cant breathe, and all the inconveniences that come with masks — but we need to always think about safety,” said Varsovia Galcheco of Pawtucket. “I think it’s the right thing, especially with the new variant.”

“If kids need a mask, they can wear a mask, but they are germ magnets to begin with,” added Cranston parent Mike Yeager. “I would say it’s up to the parent. I don’t think it’s needed. They go the mall, they are around other people.”

As the highly contagious delta variant fuels an increase in new cases around the country, the CDC has recommended universal mask-wearing for K-12 students, teachers and staff, regardless of vaccination status.

Several Rhode Island school districts met on Tuesday to discuss their reopening plans, which included mask guidance. Districts have until Aug. 27 to submit their COVID-19 plans to the state.

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