CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — Students and teachers in Central Falls are once again required to wear masks in the classroom.
The district posted on social media Sunday that the decision was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
“Please know this decision is to keep our students and team safe and healthy,” the post read.
The decision comes days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that four counties in Rhode Island — Bristol, Kent, Providence and Washington — are at the “high” community level. The community levels, updated weekly, are based on case rates, hospital admissions and hospital capacity.
The CDC recommends that people in counties designated as “high” wear masks in indoor public settings, as well as follow standard safety precautions like getting tested when experiencing symptoms and staying up to date with vaccinations.
Starting on Tuesday, masks will also be required in city buildings for the next two weeks, according to Mayor Maria Rivera’s office.
Rivera told 12 News it’s scary to see this happening again, but with the recent uptick, they want to send a strong message to residents to get tested, boosted, and wear a mask indoors.
Rivera said they want to be proactive and not reactive, and while the city doesn’t have control over what the school district decides, they’re on the same page when it comes to responding to the latest spike.
“This is a conversation, I stay in constant contact with the superintendent and these are conversations that we had to make sure they were all making decisions for the community as a whole because it doesn’t make any sense for us to do and the district not to do something, and vice versa,” she explained.
Rivera said Dr. Michael Fine, the city’s chief health strategist, told her the new wave of infections could simmer down in about three weeks if people take the proper precautions.
Dr. Philip Chan, the consulting medical director for the RI Department of Health, told 12 News last week that at this time, RIDOH is aligned with CDC guidance.
“We certainly agree with it, that when our community levels are high like they are now, that people should mask when they’re indoors,” he said. “But we’re not going to be mandating it. We strongly recommend it, but at this point in the pandemic, certainly as we learn to live with the virus, it’s really up to people to make their own personal decisions.”
RIDOH said despite the recent increases, it doesn’t expect cases and hospitalizations to reach levels seen during the January surge.
Central Falls joins a number of school districts in the Northeast, including some in states like Maine, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, in reinstating masks. A few schools in Massachusetts have opted to recommend them as well.