Governor outlines what a typical school day will look like during pandemic

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Governor Gina Raimondo outlined Thursday what a typical school day will look like for students in Rhode Island this year.

“Get ready for everything to be different,” Raimondo said, flanked by Rhode Island Department of Education Commissioner Angelica Infante Green and Rhode Island Department of Health Dr. Jim McDonald.

From when students wake up, to when they get home, the back-to-school routine will be unusual during the pandemic.

“If you go to school this year and you see a tent outside, that’s this normal to get through this year.”

The Governor said it’s important that every family gets into a routine from the moment the day starts.

“The first thing we need to do is check our symptoms. If you’re symptom-free, you feel fine, you can go ahead and head to school.”

School buses will be running at limited capacity with assigned seats. Health screenings will be conducted before students board, and bus stops will have clearly marked waiting spaces to ensure social distancing among children.

“It’s the way it needs to be to prevent overcrowding,” the Governor said.

Drop off and pick up locations will vary by school, and Raimondo told parents to check in with their district to learn of changes.

Once inside the building, students must wear masks all day and sit in their assigned seats with their designated small groups that they’ll remain with for the entirety of the school year.

Classroom windows will be open, and there will be fans and other measures to promote air circulation, the Governor said.

“In many, many places you’ll be having classes or lunch outside,” Raimondo said, pointing to Barrington, a district that is planning to have children eat lunch outside.

She said most students will eat lunch within their stable pods inside the classroom, and lunches will be delivered to the room.

The Governor also highlighted Little Compton’s plan, where the school district has set up large tents for events and outdoor learning spaces.

Recess is still on, but with restrictions. Certain areas of schoolyards could be opened in sections, Raimondo said, and equipment won’t be shared. There will also be frequent handwashing before and after going back to class.

“If we’re not willing to live differently during this pandemic, we are doomed to perpetuate it,” said Dr. Jim McDonald, taking the place of RIDOH Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott at Thursday’s press conference.

McDonald brought his own fun to the press conference, ensuring families that they can still do normal back-to-school things, like shop for new shoes, pencils, and crayons.

He said one of the most important things parents can do this year is simply talking to their child about how they’re feeling.

“Ask your little guys, how do you feel? By the way, when they get home, I would ask my little guy, how did the day go? You feel okay? Were people six feet apart, wearing those masks? Let’s have that dialogue. Make it normal for our kids.”

Next Thursday during the Governor’s weekly Facebook Live event, she will answer questions submitted by students. To submit a question, click here.

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island