Superintendent Paul Zinni and the King Philip Regional School District would like to share an update regarding the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) proposed mask mandate for the 2021-22 school year.
Earlier today, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education met and voted to give DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley the authority to institute a mask mandate for the beginning of the upcoming school year. The mask mandate is expected to be formally issued later this week by Commissioner Riley.
With the issuance of the proposed mask mandate, all K-12 students, educators and staff would be required to wear a mask while in schools through Oct. 1 to ensure schools fully reopen safely and to provide ample time for more students and educators to get vaccinated.
After Oct. 1, the policy would allow middle and high schools to lift the mask mandate for vaccinated students and staff only if the school meets a certain vaccination rate – at least 80% of students and staff in a school building are vaccinated. Unvaccinated students and staff would still be required to wear masks. Additional information regarding masking policies would then be shared by individual districts.
Community members should also note that under the DPH’s mask advisory, masks are mandatory for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, while using public transportation and rideshares, and while inside healthcare facilities and other settings. As a result, students riding any district bus or visiting any of the district’s health offices must continue to wear masks at all times while in these settings.
“We understand the frustrations that some students and their families may feel regarding DESE’s latest decision to institute a mask mandate, but as a public school district we must follow their guidance and protocols to ensure a safe return to school,” Superintendent Zinni said. “We remain hopeful that 80 percent of our student body will be vaccinated and that students will no longer need to wear masks in October.”