Thursday, February 10, 2022

REPORT: McKee Plans to End Mask Mandate for Schools and State Offices on March 4, Just Before Biden's State of the Union Speech

Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Dan McKee delivers his State of the State address to lawmakers and guests in the House Chamber at the Statehouse on Jan. 18 in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)STEW MILNE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Source: Boston Globe

Published: February 9, 2022

By: Amanda Milkovits

PROVIDENCE — Governor Daniel McKee will announce Wednesday afternoon that the state’s requirement for masking or providing proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests for indoor public places and large venues will expire on Friday.

The governor will lift the statewide masking requirement in schools and state offices on March 4.

The details of the governor’s announcement at 1:30 p.m. were released to municipal leaders.


Rhode Island currently requires masks to be worn in all indoor venues with a capacity of at least 250 people; small businesses require employers and patrons to show proof of the COVID-19 vaccine or wear a mask indoors.

New cases and hospitalizations from the virus have been dropping steadily since the dramatic spike in December and January.

His announcement came hours after Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said that he would lift the statewide mask mandate for K-12 schools on Feb. 28.

“With Massachusetts a national leader in vaccinating kids, combined with our robust testing programs, it is time to lift the mask mandate in schools and give students and staff a sense of normalcy after dealing with enormous challenges over the past two years,” Baker said in a statement. “We have all the tools to keep schools safe as we move into dealing with the next phase of managing COVID.”


In Rhode Island, 53 percent of students who were eligible for the shot were at least partially vaccinated as of Jan. 29, according to data from the Rhode Island Department of Health. Only three school districts reported that more than 80 percent of students are vaccinated: Jamestown (85 percent), Barrington (83 percent), and East Greenwich (82 percent).

Comparing municipalities, Barrington and East Greenwich reported the highest rates of fully vaccinated children aged 5 to 17, at 82.2 percent. Woonsocket had the lowest percentage of children who were fully vaccinated, at 34.2 percent, followed by Burrillville and Little Compton, at 36.9 percent.

The Ocean State Coalition and Rhode Island Small Business Coalition both urged McKee to drop the requirement that people show a proof of vaccination or wear masks indoors.

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