In a Nov. 11 video message, Superintendent Jeannie Stone said the policy will change to make masks "encouraged" at all schools and facilities.
“I feel confident in saying that I believe this is a very good decision for our entire community and allows for the element of family choice,” Stone said.
The district is hosting first- and second-dose vaccination clinics for enrolled students ages 5-11 at each of its high schools in November and December. An appointment is required, and additional information is available on the district’s website.
"This timeframe will allow ample time for our families to get students fully vaccinated before the mask requirement is lifted, if that is your choice," Stone said. "Please remember that the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] continues to recommend that people wear masks indoors in a K-12 environment, regardless of vaccination status. And RISD will continue to encourage people to wear masks indoors during the school day."
RISD put a mask mandate in place for all students and staff Aug. 17. At the time, Stone said the decision was meant to protect students, specifically those who were too young to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The district then made masks optional at junior highs, high schools and the district’s central office buildings Nov. 3.
“We continue to monitor positive cases of COVID[-19] in RISD each day, and cases have continued to remain at the lowest levels of the school year after peaking in early September,” Stone said in the Nov. 11 video. "We continue to be very optimistic about the direction of the data.”
The district’s COVID-19 dashboard, which was last updated Nov. 11, shows 1,372 students and 271 employees have been diagnosed since Aug. 2. Of cases confirmed in RISD, 35 students and seven employees still had the virus as of Nov. 11. Those totals amount to 0.09% of district students and 0.1% of staff members, according to the dashboard.
“Our health services team will continue to closely watch the data and positive cases in each school and may temporarily require masks on a class-by-class or even school-by-school basis if a substantial outbreak occurs that includes significant transmission within a class or a building,” Stone said.