Pawtucket School Committee votes for limited in-person return to school
PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WLNE) – The Pawtucket School Committee voted unanimously on Thursday night for a limited number of students to return to school in-person in September.
Students in pre-K, kindergarten, and the “special population” students will return in-person. All other grades will return through distance learning through December, or until the situation changes.
“We felt this was the safest decision for our students,” said Gerard Charbonneau, the Chairman of the Pawtucket School Committee.
Only four out the district’s 15 buildings have been deemed safe to use for in-person learning.
Students returning in-person will be spread out between Potter-Burns Elementary School, Jenks Middle School, Varina Elementary School, and Nathaniel Greene Elementary School.
“We have buildings that currently don’t have air ventilation systems,” said Charbonneau. “We would be exposing 75% of our student population of over 8,500 children to insufficient airflow.”
Parents who were hoping for a full return to in-person school are now trying to make arrangements for distance learning.
“I’m a nurse, I work 3rd shift. I unfortunately don’t have a lot of time to sit there during the day and help my son,” said Melissa Casto, whose son is going into 8th grade at Goff Middle School.
Charbonneau said the committee considered situations like this, but ultimately the decision came down to safety.
“I hear you. I’m a parent of two Pawtucket high school students. I share your frustration,” said Charbonneau. “But the reality as it sits here in our community today, we cannot open these schools safely.”
Governor Gina Raimondo will announce how she wants Pawtucket School District to reopen on Monday.