Warwick schools to phase students back into the classroom in a hybrid model

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) – After several changes to Warwick’s back to school plan, the school committee voted to phase students back into the classroom in a hybrid model, some as early as next week.

Some parents say the news is a sigh of relief. In a parent survey conducted by the school, 80% of kindergarten parents and 83% of grades 1-5 parents said they want their kids to go back in-person.

“I think we can all agree there’s no perfect solution in a pandemic, but I think we can also agree, in-person learning will help our youngest learners,” Superintendent Phillip Thornton said.

The plan calls for a mixed model of virtual learning at home and in-person instruction for two days a week.

Under the plan, half of kindergartners would return on October 14 and the other half would start on October 15.

Other grades will phase in day by day.

Grade 1 will return on October 20 and 21, grade 2 on October 22 and 23, grade 3 on October 26 and 27, grade 4 on October 29 and 30 and grade 5 on November 4 and 5.

“Anyone who thinks we’re making the decision to go back because we’re getting pressure from the state is out of their mind,” School Committee member David Testa said. “I think this body has shown that we don’t bend to that kind of pressure.”

Parents like Alexis Doyle say it’s the news they’ve been waiting for.

“In school, I believe, is much better for the kids,” Doyle said. “It creates an environment of learning whereas home is everything else. It’s hard to get them to do their work.”

Doyle has two kids—a high school freshman and a 5th grader. Her high schooler is in the special needs program, which already started in-person class.

“The first day she came back, she was thrilled to death to have been there,” Doyle said. “She was happy, she did her work, she already made a new friend. Because she’s special needs with high functioning autism, the socialization is so important.”

School committee members have wrestled with the decision, agreeing socialization is extremely important, but arguing the schools weren’t ready to reopen until they got new air filters.

“We don’t know when it’s going to end,” Doyle said. “We’ve got to give these kids a sense of normalcy. We can’t stop the entire world because of this, but we can keep them safe while we go forward.”

Those new air filters are set to arrive by the end of October.

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