RI school committees discuss fall reopening plans, mask policies

School Updates

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A number of Rhode Island school committees met Tuesday night to discuss reopening schools in the fall and whether that will involve the use of masks.

The discussions come as 93,824 child COVID-19 cases were reported nationwide for the week ending Aug. 5, representing 15% of new cases, according to a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The group recommended last month that all children over the age of 2 wear masks when returning to school this fall. The doctors’ group said since many children and others cannot be vaccinated, universal masking is the most effective way to safeguard children from COVID-19.

A Target 12 analysis of R.I. Department of Health data locally shows infections have risen sharply among children and young adults since total cases started trending upward last month.

Dr. Michael Koster, director of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, told 12 News lower vaccination rates among children and the highly contagious Delta variant are playing a role in the uptick of pediatric cases.

“It probably really has nothing to do with our human behavior. This is the virus,” Koster said. “So, the gravity of this virus is it’s finding any and all people who haven’t had previous illness, who haven’t been vaccinated, and that includes children.”

As of July 7, an AAP report found 45% of 16- and 17-year-olds and 32% of 12- to 15-year-olds in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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