Teachers weigh in on Raimondo’s requirements for in-person school
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Governor Gina Raimondo released five key focus areas that will indicate whether it’s safe to move forward with full, in-person school.
In order for a school to resume in-person learning, the state will have to be in Phase 3 or higher, there will have to be enough testing available to get results within 72 hours, every school must have sufficient PPE and cleaning supplies, as well as an approved reopening plan. Furthermore, the state will look at the number of new coronavirus cases in each municipality to see if it’s safe to fully reopen.
Since the number of coronavirus cases vary by municipality, some districts in hot spots may start school on August 31 through distance learning, while others may begin to return in-person.
Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence, and Woonsocket make up Rhode Island’s urban core. They are also the areas hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The districts that have experienced the highest rates of COVID-19 infection are also the districts that are already struggling the most,” said Maya Chavez, a teacher in the Providence Public School District.
She’s worried students in her district might not have the resources to go back to full distance learning.
“Closing school because COVID-19 infection rates are high does not necessarily keep our kids safe,” said Chavez. “This puts certain families– families who we serve in Providence, in the urban core of Rhode Island– in a crises situation where they have to choose between potentially leaving a child at home where they’re not going to have adequate supervision, or they’re not going to have someone there to support their distance learning.”
Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said the state will step in to help in situations like that.
“We’ve thought about: how do we bring the extra materials, what does the technology look like, do we need to upgrade what’s happening. All those things are part of our plan,” said Infante-Green.
Teachers in hard hit Central Falls are concerned for a different reason: they’re worried a return to the classroom could lead to a spread of the virus.
“When we send teachers back to those school districts– I don’t live in Central Falls, I live in East Providence, a lot of the teachers that I teach with live in South County– what we’re doing is sending people into those hot spots and then back into their own home districts,” said Stephanie Meuse, a teacher at The Learning Community in Central Falls.
The governor said she will reveal what level of reopening she expects from each city and town during the week of August 16.