The EG school committee voted 6-1 to overturn the mask mandate, meaning it will go into effect Monday, March 7, the first day of school after the state mask mandate ends on March 4. . Committee member Kevin Murphy voted against.
The new policy reads,
“Per CDC and RIDOH guidelines, masks or face coverings are recommended, but should be optional in EGSD, except when required by federal or state law, ordinance, or regulation.
“After consultation with RIDOH and the District Medical Officer, the Superintendent has the discretion to impose a district-wide or school-wide temporary mask mandate to protect the health and safety of all students and DHMT staff, subject to the exceptions described below.” (Find the full policy here: COVID 19 health and safety protocols and procedures.)
One of the reasons for this change was the high rate of student vaccinations at East Greenwich. According to Supt. Alexis Meyer, 80% of students and 98% of staff received the primary vaccine series. (You can view COVID-19 data on the state website HERE.)
East Greenwich has one of the highest student vaccination rates in Rhode Island. On average, 80% of students received the primary series of vaccines. Please visit the site to view district and school data. In addition, at East Greenwich, 98% of staff have completed the primary vaccination.
After the vote, Murphy said he was “very comfortable with the revised policy” and did not want to delay its implementation but abstained because “[I] was uncomfortable giving up my right to vote on the temporary mask mandate as outlined in the latest policy.
Murphy had proposed for the school committee to vote on a proposed mask policy change within a specific time frame, say within five days.
He said that because he was “only 90%” comfortable with politics, he couldn’t vote yes.
Public comment on the policy was weighted towards those who expressed relief at the proposed change to the mask mandate, but also frustration that the superintendent had the discretion to re-implement a return to masking, particularly if parents were not allowed to intervene.
Supt. Alexis Meyer stressed that any return to masking would be done in consultation with the state Department of Health and the district pediatrician. Still, several commentators said parents should be part (or all) of the decision.
School committee chair Anne Musella noted that the committee usually meets at least every other week most of the year, so there would be a public meeting where people could air their concerns within days. or at most a few weeks.
“A lot of parents think they should be able to make the decision,” mother Lorraine Martin said. She added: “There is a lot of mistrust in the school system and all around. Everyone just wants to be heard.
Parent Brian Turner said his comment was about procedure, not individuals.
“Consider removing language from the policy giving this power to any superintendent. For something that has been so difficult for the children of this community pPeople would just like to know the conversation happened, he said.
The vote came after public comments.
This was the second reading of the policy change, as required by the district. Find the discussion of the first reading of the school committee on change (February 15) HERE.
This article was added after it was first published.
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