Raimondo tours outdoor classroom


SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WLNE) — Classes at La Perche Elementary School are looking very different these days, and Thursday Governor Gina Raimondo joined them.

“It’s one thing to put a plan on paper, and then it’s another thing to make it work with hundreds of little people running around,” she said. “So this proves it’s possible.”

Children have lunch, recess, and some classes in the field on school property — all while staying in their stable pods.

Raimondo acknowledges it’s not a long-term fix, especially as the weather worsens.

“I don’t think they can be out here forever,” said the governor, a Democrat. “But it’s an excellent solution for now.”

It’s a solution she wishes other communities would follow.

“I don’t think Warwick is making the right decision, and kids in Warwick are going to suffer because of it,” she said. “Same thing in Pawtucket. I mean, look at these kids. They’re going to school. It’s different. It’s not the same. But they’re learning, and they’re with their friends, and their teachers are going above and beyond to be creative.”

Some of those educators are voicing their concerns about the challenges ahead.

Making sure kids are safe — and not just from the virus — while outside is a priority.

“There’s more police presence,” said Smithfield Superintendent Judy Paolucci. “Making this a town effort is really important.”

La Perche is planning to use the outdoor space as long as possible, even in the winter.

But they need tents for inclement weather.

And when it gets colder, they’ll need air filters for their indoor classes.

“Make sure that the classrooms have air filters once the windows and fans can’t be utilized,” said La Perche Elementary Principal Julie Dorsey.

Another long-term concern is whether there will be enough substitute teachers. Governor Raimondo

says the state is working on ways to incentivize more people to substitute teach.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island