Masks are now optional in most Rhode Island school districts

March 7, 2022 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — In most school districts across Rhode Island, masks became optional on Monday.

The exceptions are Providence, the state’s largest district, and Central Falls, which has been among the communities hardest hit by COVID-19.

Rhode Island lifted the statewide school mask mandate at the end of the day Friday, which gives local school districts the authority to decide whether to require masks.

School districts around the country are allowing students into classrooms without masks for the first time in nearly two years. New York City made masks optional in city schools Monday.

A list of public school departments released by Rhode Island’s education department Monday shows every other district made masks optional. The department is still waiting to hear from some charter schools.


More than 21,000 students attend Providence schools. The district said “student and staff safety is the top priority,” and it will continue to assess its policies based on guidance and public health conditions, adapting as necessary.

Democratic Gov. Dan McKee said he was allowing the mandate to sunset because the most recent surge in infections and hospitalizations fueled by the omicron variant has waned, and he wanted to empower schools to implement the health and safety measures best suited to their communities.