McKee opts not to issue statewide mask mandate in schools, leaving decision up to the districts

School Updates

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ As students prepare to return to the classroom in less than a month, school districts are deciding whether they’ll need to mask up.

Gov. Dan McKee said Tuesday he won’t make face masks mandatory in schools statewide and will instead allow individual districts make the call.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently recommended students and faculty wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status.

The guidance comes amid a nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases among children and young adults, as well as the continued spread of the highly-contagious delta variant.

While he’s not issuing a statewide mandate, McKee said he expects school districts to follow the CDC’s most recent guidelines.

“Some of our young people do not meet the age requirement to get vaccinated and we have to use all tools available to us to keep them safe,” he said.

Cranston Public Schools met Tuesday night to discuss the district’s COVID-19 policies heading into the new school year.

Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse told the Cranston School Committee that the current draft of the policy recommends unvaccinated students wear face masks, but does not require them to.

“If we need to change, we do,” Nota-Masse said.

The potential for another mask mandate has sparked a discussion among parents regarding their personal choice.

“I’m not masking my child,” parent Amanda Forte said. “I will not mask my healthy child and I want that choice, no number or new variant or anything is going to change that.”

Some parents remain worried about the delta variant, especially since not all kids are eligible to get vaccinated.

“People are dying,” parent Josh Diem said. “No science backs up not wearing a mask. It seems like a relatively easy, innocuous thing.”

The Cranston School Committee is offering parents the chance to voice their concerns during next week’s meeting, which is when members will vote on the finalized policy.

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