State officials support in-school learning as best option
PROVIDENCE, R.I.– It’s the question parents want answered sooner rather than later: Will students be going back to the classroom?
During Wednesday’s press conference, Everyone in charge at the state level believes in-school learning is the best option.
Governor Gina Raimondo has previously said she would like to see students back in the classroom by August 31st.
Raimondo said all districts completed their reopening plans, which were due on July 17th. Each district was asked to prepare for different scenarios including full in-person reopening, a partial reopening, and distance learning.
“We can’t minimize the long term cause it could have on our children if we don’t get them back into school,” Raimondo said.
Rhode Island Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott is backing Raimondo. On Wednesday, she said in-school learning would be the best option right now, and believes there are ways to do so safely.
“Stable groups, assigned seating, and limiting the movement of groups throughout the school,” Dr. Alexander-Scott said. “That’s the key, in addition to all the supportive measures that we are talking about working, like masks when developmentally appropriate and able to use, hand sanitizer on a regular basis, and distancing or positioning children creatively where we can minimize exposure.”
Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green of the Rhode Island Department of Education is also in agreement. However, she said a decision hasn’t been made.
“All the plans required the districts listen to the community, what would make you feel safe and what’s on the table,” Infante-Green said. “We are planning. It’s the most responsible thing to do.”
Governor Raimondo admitted the state is still trying to figure out how to make fall plans work safely, and she doesn’t have all the answers.
“There are big challenges,” Raimondo said. “How do we deal with transportation? How do we deal with cleanliness, children with special needs, and on and on. Here’s what I can tell you; we are going to work every day between now and the end of August to figure out answers to these questions.”
An official answer to what will happen regarding the first day of school is expected by the second week of August.
Governor Raimondo and Infante-Green plan to hold a virtual discussion on schools addressing these issues, held every Thursday at 3 p.m. on the governor’s Facebook page. They will be joined by a variety of experts, including pediatricians.