PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Six weeks after masks became optional in Providence Public Schools, the mandate will be reinstated.
Superintendent Javier Montañez wrote in a letter to families that the number of cases among students and staff rose to 60 per day last week, prompting him to reinstate the masking requirements. The state-controlled district has roughly 22,000 students total.
Starting Tuesday, masks will be required indoors at Providence schools, PPSD events and on school buses, according to the district. Masks will not be required outdoors.
Providence County is back in the “high-risk” category for transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC recommended last week that people in high-risk counties resume wearing masks indoors.
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“Given the increase in cases and new information from the CDC, I engaged in discussions with students, staff, community members, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and the Rhode Island Department of Education,” Montañez said in a news release. “The additional mitigation layer of masking will help us manage this new COVID surge and keep more students in the classroom where they learn best.”
He noted that the district wants to keep the outbreak contained as more than 3,000 students plan to continue going to school in summer programs.
Providence is the second Rhode Island district to reinstate a mask mandate amid the current surge in cases, following Central Falls, which made the announcement on Sunday.
Central Falls and Providence had been the last districts to drop their masks mandates earlier this spring, after Gov. Dan McKee allowed school districts to make masking optional.
The announcement from Providence said the mask policy will be reevaluated on a “consistent basis moving forward,” and further guidance is expected in the coming days about events such as proms, field trips and graduations.