Tiverton Public Schools have four options for reopening, transportation a major issue

TIVERTON, R.I. (WLNE) – What will school look like this fall amidst a global pandemic? That’s the question superintendents everywhere are grappling with.

In Tiverton, superintendent Peter Sanchioni has been hard at work with his team to come up with four viable options for reopening the public schools.

  • “All in” – every student is learning in-person
  • “All out” – every student is at home, distance learning

The district has also come up with two hybrid options: one, where kindergarten through 8th grade is learning in-person, and two of the four high school grades are in-person on a rotating basis, and two, where classes are capped at 15 students, with half learning in-person, and the other half learning at home while watching their teacher on a webcam.

When it comes to safety precautions, masks will be mandatory for teachers and some students, with face shields being required for the younger children. Shields will be made available for those unable to wear masks for health reasons.

“We’ve got the cleaning protocols all in place and ready to go. We are going to require our students to wear masks grades 3 through 12, and we’re going to provide face shields for every student pre-K through 2.”

But the biggest issue the district is facing is transportation. Sanchioni said, with only two dozen students allowed on a bus at one time, that leaves approximately 600 students in town without a ride to school. Buses typically transport around 70 students.

“If we can’t get those 600 kids to get to school another way then we’re gonna have to use a hybrid approach.”

President of the National Education Association Tiverton, Amy Mullen, said the teachers’ union has been left out of the discussion on the plan, and have a few concerns. She’s started her own reopening team for teachers to provide feedback that she will then bring to the superintendent.

“We have concerns about subs and how that’s going to work. We have equity concerns for our students. We have concerns about the COVID testing, the amount of money that’s going to need to be spent on cleaning materials and supplies is a concern, and where that money’s going to come, from because in Tiverton we are already in a deficit,” said Mullen.

She’s also concerned about the lack of staff after many were laid off in March and haven’t been rehired.

“We had 43 teachers that received layoff notices and haven’t been recalled at this point, and so we’re really concerned that we may lose those teachers to other districts and they may not come back to us.”

Mullen and Sanchioni have a meeting planned for Monday, where they will discuss the plan and the union’s feedback.

“We all want what’s best for our students, we want them to be healthy and safe,” said Mullen. “That’s the primary concern. And so we just want to make sure if we go back, we’re going back safely.”

The district is expecting to hear from the Rhode Island Department of Education between August 10 and 17 about which of the four plans they should go with.

© WLNE-TV 2020

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