January 21, 2022

DESE Extends Mask Mandate Through January

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On Tuesday, Commissioner Jeff Riley and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) extended the school mask mandate through January 15, 2022.

According to the press release issued by DESE: “The Department will continue to work with medical experts and state health officials to evaluate the mask requirement beyond January 15. The Department, in collaboration with medical experts and state health officials, will also continue to review and consider additional metrics related to the state mask requirement based on our ongoing review of public health data. Currently, if a school building demonstrates a vaccination rate of 80 percent or more of all students and staff in the school through an attestation form submitted to DESE, then vaccinated individuals in that school would no longer be subject to the state mask requirement.”

“We will continue with the mandatory mask covering in all of our schools as delineated by the Commissioner of Education,” said Dighton-Rehoboth School Superintendent Anthony Azar. “In addition, we soon will be asking our school community, on a volunteer basis, to send into school the verification of vaccination.  As DESE has indicated, if the students and staff reach an 80% vaccinated rate we then would petition the state for a waiver of the mask mandate prior to the January 15, 2022 mask mandate extension if we get to the 80% rate.”

DESE required all districts and schools to provide in-person learning to students.

“Since the start of the year, approximately 920,000 public school students have been learning in schools with minimal disruptions,” Riley noted. “In addition to masking, this progress has been possible thanks to school communities working together to participate in the state’s COVID-19 testing program, combined with high vaccination rates among eligible populations. Over 2,200 schools have opted into DESE’s surveillance and symptomatic testing program to support the continuity of safe, in-person learning for our children. As part of this program, DESE has instituted a groundbreaking Test and Stay program for individuals identified as close contacts in school, in which they are able to remain in school provided they engage in daily testing for seven days. Across the state, this innovation has saved more than 48,000 days of student learning this school year.”

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