Parents and teachers protest the return of in-person schooling with car rally
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Parents and teachers held a socially distanced vehicle protest outside of the Rhode Island Department of Education Monday afternoon.
The group rallied to let education officials know how they feel about students going back to school in the fall.
Many are worried there are too many new coronavirus cases in the state for in-person learning to resume, and they would rather start with distance learning on August 31.
Concerns are also growing about students not being able to properly social distance or wear masks.
Stephanie Meuse, a fourth grade teacher at the Learning Community in Central Falls said, “I just know that many of our classrooms don’t have space to distance six feet.”
Many are also worried the coronavirus will spread quickly in schools.
“I’m not willing to risk the health, the future, or the life of my children,” said Inoska Quezada, whose sons are enrolled at Providence Schools. “It’s a science experiment that’s going fail.”
She says because Providence Schools were already failing last year, they are not properly equipped to protect students during a pandemic.
“Buildings are in disrepair,” said Quezada. “The schools were already overcrowded 105%. The ventilation is poor. My son last year was in the library because he couldn’t be in his class.”
The Rhode Island Department of Education released the following statement in response to today’s rally:
We appreciate and respect the passion of these parents and educators, and we share their concerns. That is why we are working tirelessly with the Governor, the Rhode Island Department of Health, local education leaders, and other education and public health experts to ensure we have science- and data-driven plans in place to reopen schools safely.
While our goal is to prepare for students learning in-person on August 31, the ultimate determination will be based on science and the current public health situation. That is why we are preparing for a full range of scenarios, from in-person to distance learning. We are also working to address the questions that our teachers, families and students have about the upcoming school year, and we are sharing those answers with school leaders, community groups and the public as they become available.
The mental, social, physical, and intellectual health of our students is the foremost consideration in every decision we make. The health of teachers and other school staff are also driving concerns. Rhode Islanders did a great job with distance learning, and we will continue to chart these unfamiliar waters together, with flexibility and patience.
Governor Gina Raimondo and RIDE Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green stated during last week’s press briefing that a lot more work needs to be done before a decision is made regarding how students will return to school on the August 31.