PRESS RELEASE Parent’s Union Congratulations Providence Schools and Parents for dropping mask mandate

GLOCESTER RI – The Parents Union would like to congratulate the Providence School System for dropping their universal mask mandate this week..

Attorney Gregory Piccirilli recently sent an email to Angélica Infante-Green , Commissioner for the Rhode Island Department of Education, inquiring on behalf of multiple parents with children in the school district informing her that “parents are opposed to the continued attempt by the Providence School District to continue to impose a mask mandate on their children enrolled in the District.”

According to attorney Piccirilli, “In fact, it is difficult to determine, other than from news reports, what the current masking policy is of the District, who set that policy, and on what legal and medical authority that such a policy was made.”

Attorney Piccirilli continued: “As you are aware, the Governor terminated the mask mandate for public school students effective March 4. This mandate was imposed pursuant to an Executive Order, and subsequent Emergency Regulation by the RI Department of Health. That mandate has been challenged by a group of parents throughout the State in Southwell v. McKee…Fortunately, nearly all public school districts in the State have elected to drop their requirement for mandatory masking upon the expiration of the Governor’s order on March 4. Unfortunately, the Providence School District is not one of them. There is neither a public health basis for the District to impose such a mandate unilaterally, nor is there any legal basis to do so.”

In response, Attorney Anthony Cottone, representing the Commissioner of Education Angélica Infante-Green indicated the mask mandate would be lifted the week of March 28th, 2022.

There has been an increasing parent response to the capricious and arbitrary universal mask mandate within the Providence School System. Parents turned out en masse at a recent Providence School Committee meeting, demanding answers.

Adriana Bonilla noted, “Providence Public Schools preaches about equity daily, yet this wasn’t followed through with masks…Was this not discrimination?” She went on to add, “All other school districts except for Central Falls and Providence children, that are minorities, did not get included in mask optional…Did these kids’ voice not matter, [why] did their parents not have a say in the matter?” Maddalena Cirignotta added “Imposing mandates exclusively on children in underserved and minority communities such as PVD sends the message that children of color are somehow more diseased and dangerous than their more affluent counterparts. If RIDE wishes to promote equity, they must immediately drop their harmful mask mandate, which tramples on those who don’t have the means to protect themselves. Neither science nor the community support the forcible masking of children for an education.”

“It’s long past the time when a universal mask mandate should have been lifted for the children in the Providence School System” says Laurie Gaddis Barrett. “Why didn’t the Commissioner of Education trust the parents of the children in the school system to make appropriate choices for their families in the first place?”

We look forward to the official announcement that Providence Public Schools will drop their universal mask mandate, and congratulate the parents in Providence for a successful result of their advocacy.

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