This story has been updated.

The Foster School Committee voted Tuesday 2-1 to include masking requirements for the fall reopening of  the town’s one elementary school. On Monday, the Glocester school committee voted to allow parental objections to masking requirements in schools. It also voted to explore litigation over the state mask mandate. 

Parents in Foster have expressed concern about the Glocester move.

Foster and Glocester operate their elementary schools independently.The middle and high schools are regionalized and operate under a combined committee. 

“So what Glocester does in their school could actually affect what happens in Foster elementary in terms of COVID spread,” said Foster resident Jennifer Spaziano, who has four children and has organized parents online in support of a mask requirement. “So I’m definitely concerned about the Glocester decision.” 

The school committee in Foster voted to include a mask requirement for Isaac Paine Elementary School as long as it is recommended or mandated by the Governor, state Health Department or the CDC. The policy is set to be reconsidered every three months during the upcoming school year. 

Committee member Brendan Mara is looking to include language that would allow school administrators to extend masking requirements even if the state rolls back the mandate, if local COVID conditions warrant. 

One of my colleagues also requested that the full policy be amended to include language that encourages our staff/students to take advantage of outdoor classroom spaces to the greatest extent possible,” Mara said in an email Wednesday. 

Both issues will be reviewed when the policy receives a second reading by the committee.

Last week, the state council on Elementary and Secondary education gave the state education commissioner authority to reject local school reopening plans that did not include mask-wearing requirements. 

Governor Dan McKee signed an executive order mandating masks indoors in schools last week, following public pressure and increasing cases of COVID-19 amid the spread of the Delta Variant. That order is set to expire September 18th. 

State Senator Jessica De La Cruz, a Republican whose district includes Glocester, called McKee’s declaration executive overreach, in a statement released Tuesday, and has called for the end of the state’s COVID emergency declaration.

The CDC has recommended universal masking for schools this fall.

With Associated Press reports.