RI delays start of school 2 weeks to aid virus preparations

August 12, 2020 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island will delay the reopening of public schools by two weeks, to Sept. 14, to give educators more time to prepare to welcome returning students during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Gina Raimondo announced her decision to give schools extra time on Wednesday, saying that while she is eager for schools to resume in-person classes, it must be done responsibly.

“It gives schools a little more time to be ready,” said Raimondo, a Democrat. “So you can have confidence that when we reopen school we’ll be in good shape. We owe it to the children.”

Under Raimondo’s plan, local schools will be allowed to resume full-time in-person instruction only if they meet certain safety benchmarks. A final decision is expected the week of Aug. 31.

ADVERTISEMENT

Raimondo said local districts must put in place detailed plans dealing with details such as student transportation, in-school traffic flow, class size and mask use. Schools that don’t meet the criteria for full in-person instruction will rely on distance learning or a hybrid approach that combines remote instruction with some classroom time.

On Friday, National Education Association Rhode Island President Larry Purtill and Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals President Frank Flynn sent a letter to Raimondo calling for the school year to begin with remote learning and no earlier than Sept. 9.

State health officials on Wednesday reported two new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the state’s death toll to 1,018. There have been more than 20,000 confirmed cases in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.