Rhode Island Governor’s Office and Department of Education Provide Updated Guidelines to Fully Reopen in the Fall

Governor Dan McKee and Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green held a joint press conference this morning to announce that Rhode Island public schools will fully reopen for in-person learning this fall. The Rhode Island Department of Education (“RIDE”) also issued new guidance for schools and families ahead of the fall reopening.

Key changes this fall in COVID-19 guidance for schools include:

Vaccinations & Masks

  • Vaccinated students and faculty are no longer required to wear masks in the school building.
  • Masks are only required in the school building for unvaccinated students and faculty.
  • Masks will still be required on buses during transport to and from school per federal order 42 U.S.C. 264 et seq.

Social Distancing

  • Schools servicing students under 12 years old who are ineligible to receive the vaccination can establish their own mask and social distancing policies above and beyond state recommendations and requirements.
  • Social distancing is no longer required, however, three (3) feet should be maintained between students whenever or wherever possible. Also, keeping students in stationary pods as much as possible is recommended.
  • Outdoor learning and dining are still encouraged whenever possible.
  • Symptom signage and screening procedures should remain in place.

Distance Learning

  • Schools are no longer required to provide distance learning plans or distance learning options for students.
  • Families of students who are at an increased risk of severe illness and/or students who live with people at high risk are encouraged to meet with their school to review their Health Plan, 504 Plan, and/or IEP to update accordingly with any remote learning needs. Schools should be prepared to inform this process as they see fit.
  • Field trips, as well as before and after school programming, will be allowed.

As guidance becomes more defined, we will continue to communicate updates that may impact your school communities. If you have any additional questions about the updated COVID-19 guidance for school reopening this fall, please contact Matthew R. Plain, Timothy J. Groves, or your Barton Gilman attorney at 401-273-7171.

About Barton Gilman

Barton Gilman provides the full scope of legal services to education clients – including traditional and non-traditional public schools, charter schools, charter management organizations, private schools, education advocacy organizations and other education-related organizations – throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. For more information, please click here.