Hybrid model brings kindergartners back to School in Warwick
WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) – It’s back to school in Warwick for Kindergarteners. Wednesday marked the start of a hybrid, phased-in return to school in the city.
The Warwick School Committee voted to continue with the plan earlier in October and will have phased returns for grades on a day-by-day basis. This new plan calls for a model of distance learning at home, and in-person learning for two days a week.
Half of kindergarteners returned back to the classroom and the other half will return tomorrow. Other students will phase in grade by grade from now until November.
On Wednesday, students marched up to the school for the first time since March, masked up and social distanced on dots placed six feet apart.
“That’s my baby boy and he’s all grown up,” Warwick mom Monica Mejia said. “It’s also scary with everything going on. It’s exciting, but we’re a little apprehensive about it.”
For Monica Mejia, saying goodbye to her kindergartener was tough.
“I guess he wanted to give me one last hug and kiss before he goes in,” Mejia said. “I’m impressed there are no tears and he’s just very excited. I feel like I’m the one that’s about to cry!”
Re-opening has been a battle in Warwick. While most schools in the state have already opened back up, Warwick decided in August to move forward with distance learning for the time being.
At the time, the state released an air quality metric and most schools didn’t meet safety standards. The Superintendent said he wanted a long-term solution to the air flow problem and decided to halt re-opening until new air filters came in. That decision caught a lot criticism, even from the Governor.
However, the Superintendent defended their decision, saying he and the school board stood firm in their decision until it was safe to reopen.
“I’m trying not to politicize this process,” Dr. Philip Thornton said. “It’s what is safe. As a father myself, can I put my kids in the building? I’ve answered that question every time.”
The Superintendent says the first 60 air filters for kindergarteners came in Tuesday night. The next 600 are set to deliver on October 21 and the final 600 are set for December 4.
Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon stood by the district’s decision as well. But, he says he knows this isn’t the last battle they’ll face.
“There may be a spike. We’ve seen it across the country and locally,” Mayor Solomon. “We’re going to have to continue to be in adjustment mode.”
Warwick schools say they are fully prepared to make changes when needed. They say if any family member who wasn’t ready to send their kid back in-person changes their mind and vice versa, they’ll make adjustments.
The new re-opening plan is as follows:
Starting on October 14, half of the kindergartners would return to class at Wyman School, and the other half would start on October 15.
First grade will return on October 20 and 21, second grade on October 22 and 23, third grade on October 26 and 27, fourth grade on October 29 and 30, and ending with fifth grade on November 4 and 5.