Teachers respond to state protocols to control possible outbreaks in schools

Some teachers tell ABC 6 they're glad there is guidance but it doesn't necessarily make going back to school in person anymore palatable.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The Rhode Island Department of Health released a playbook Friday for what students and faculty should do for a host of scenarios regarding possible cases of the virus in schools.

The outbreak response protocols detail what to do if someone is symptomatic, has a probable case of the virus, or has a confirmed case, and also what those exposed to that person should do.

Some teachers tell ABC 6 they’re glad there is guidance but it doesn’t necessarily make going back to school in person anymore palatable.

“I think it’s a really great first step in putting together all of the pieces that families are going to need to make really serious decisions about whether or not their child or children are impacted,” said President of the Providence Teachers Union Maribeth Calabro.

The protocols are mostly based on the idea that students and faculty will be in small, stable groups – or ‘close contacts.’

“The guidance might be clear but it’s unrealistic,” said President of the Warwick Teachers Union Darlene Netcoh.

Netcoh says stable groups likely won’t be the case for her high school students.

“The high school – forget it,” said Netcoh. “Those kids, their schedules, they cannot be put into a stable group.”

According to the guidance, for both someone with symptoms or a probable case, close contacts will not necessarily have to quarantine. That’s something Netcoh says seems to be at odds with general guidance.

“So here they’re kind of relaxing that. I think trying to say ‘It’s okay, we can put the kids in the school,” said Netcoh.

Calabro also says these scenarios could be confusing for younger children.

“‘If I say I don’t feel good am I going to get in trouble?’ There’s like all these things that go on in children’s heads,” said Calabro. “Neither more nor less comfortable right now to be perfectly honest with you,” she said of the plan.  “I just feel like this is a tool in the tool kit.”

The playbook also noted what will be required for any symptomatic, probable, or positive cases to come back to school safely, and when people should be tested.

The final decisions on in person learning in the state will be announced in the next two weeks.

Categories: Back to School, Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island