Changes coming to R.I. and Massachusetts schools Monday

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Changes are coming to the classroom at schools in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Beginning Monday in Rhode Island, capacity will increase to 75% on school buses. The lunchroom will also be more crowded as caps on cafeteria capacities loosen.

Students will also be seated closer together in the classroom. The Department of Education announced schools can not opt to reduce social distancing to 3-feet instead of 6-feet.

In addition, daycares will be able to increase capacity to 100%.

“We will definitely be expanding, we’re also expanding our actual property size in order to accommodate, but also, we’re adding the rest of the spots which we had held,” said Britt Riley, owner of The Coggeshall Club in Middletown.

The daycare serves around 65 families, and Riley is hoping to increase that number to 100. She said they have been operating at 100% due to their small class sizes, but Monday’s relief of some school restrictions will allow them to do more outside.

“We are going to implement some of the being able to combine the classrooms outside a little bit more, and since we have smaller class sizes, that’ll be a healthy increase for us and just more fun socialization for the kids.”

Changes are coming to Massachusetts, too. Jeffrey Riley, the commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, announced last month that hybrid and remote learning models will no longer count toward meeting the required student learning time hours as of Wednesday, April 28.

That decision meant that districts and schools must shift their learning model for middle school grade levels to in-person instruction five days per week by that date.

Officials have not yet announced a date for high schoolers to return full time; however, Governor Charlie Baker is expected to release guidance about that sometime this week.

At Coggeshall, Riley said their waitlist is long, as they have a unique daycare model. There are workspaces in their building for parents along with a fitness center.

“Since we’ve reopened and as people have become more comfortable, they’ve navigated towards this model because it allows them to work outside of the home, even though they’re still remote, and still be close to their kids,” Riley said.

She does fear that families will let their guard down and they could see a spread of the virus in schools. She said she hopes families will remain cautious.

“It’s an exciting time and it’s also a time for us to kind of remind all the parents, you know if you can get vaccinated, do it. Don’t send your kids in if they have symptoms, and not to let their guards down because it’s definitely going to be… these are all the unvaccinated children. As there are more of them, there’s a greater likelihood that even though it’s hard to spread, they could.”

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Categories: Back to School, Coronavirus, Massachusetts, News, Our Schools, Providence, Rhode Island