Educators frustrated by governor’s remarks targeting districts shifting to remote learning

Despite the governor extending the state's pause another week, she made no move to close schools which she, and medical experts, continue to maintain are safe to learn in in person.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) -Educators in Rhode Island say they are disappointed by Governor Gina Raimondo’s remarks once again admonishing school districts that have decided to shift to virtual learning in response to the pandemic worsening in the state.

Despite the governor extending the state’s pause another week, she made no move to close schools which she, and medical experts, continue to maintain are safe to learn in in person.

Several districts have chosen to move their students to distance learning until after winter break.

The governor said Thursday the longer kids are out of school the more likely they will have lifelong challenges.

“To those of you who are throwing in the towel on our kids and going virtual: I think it’s a shame. I really do,” said Governor Raimondo. “You’re letting the children down and I don’t see any reason for it.”

Those remarks are not sitting well with educators.

“The governor needs to stop chastising superintendents, school committees, teachers, and so on,” said Warwick Teachers Union President Darlene Netcoh. “I want to see her come into a school then. Why doesn’t she try to run a school system or teach in a classroom all day?”

Warwick announced Wednesday it will be moving to distance learning next week. Currently more than 300 students and teachers are in quarantine and the positivity rate is rising in the city.

“We all know that yes, in person learning is the best. But, it has to be safe! The conditions have to be safe. And just saying it, governor, that it’s safe, doesn’t make it so,” said Netcoh.

Several other districts are also moving to distance learning until after winter break including Burrillville, West Warwick, Cranston, Coventry, and East Providence.

In her remarks, the governor also said that superintendents that are moving to virtual learning should “Look in the mirror and try a little harder.”

East Providence Superintendent Kathryn Crowley responding on Twitter:

“There are a lot of superintendents who made the decision because they can’t staff their schools and they’re concerned about the health and safety of their students and staff,” said NEARI President Larry Purtill.

Cranston sited staffing issues as one of their reasons for moving to distance learning, because so many are in quarantine.

Educators were heartened, however, by the governor’s announcement Thursday that the state will be rolling out a robust testing program in January on site at schools across the state.

They say that will be essential to safely getting students and staff back in the buildings.

“I think the key going forward is really going to be that testing needs to be in place for all districts, for all schools come January 4,” said Purtill.  “And if it’s not, then I don’t see how you return students to school.”

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island, Your Health