Posted on Leave a comment

RI In-Person Fall Classes: Details Outstanding

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Warwick Public Schools Administration is located at 69 Draper Ave.

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Warwick Public Schools Administration is located at 69 Draper Ave.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Warwick Public Schools Administration is located at 69 Draper Ave.
WARWICK, RI — Superintendent Philip Thornton knows when the state wants Warwick Schools to return to in-person fall classes — he just doesn’t know how.

Wednesday, the morning after Thornton told the Warwick School Committee in-person fall classes would start with elementary students, but a secondary plan was uncertain, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced classes will start Aug. 31.

“Yesterday the Governor said that the superintendents will have to “lead” through this. Well, the Governor and RIDE are the ones who really have to lead here in terms of laying down clear, unequivocal guidelines.”

“The Governor’s announcement was a surprise given the weeks of previous conversations with RIDE. At this point, we will wait until June 19 to review the new guidelines and make our plans accordingly,” Thornton said Thursday.

The review date’s in line with his intended plan outlined during Tuesday night’s meeting, where he said he hoped to develop a plan that would address the challenge of managing secondary education classes under pandemic precautions.

“I can’t speak as to why the superintendents’ got such a short notice on this but I’m not surprised,” said Warwick School Committee member David Testa,  “In short, the devil is in the details.”

NOW, CHECK OUT THIS:
COVID-19 Closes Kent Endoscopy Unit

Testa said the state has not divulged those details.

Raimondo’s office did not immediately respond to a question about why Thornton and state officials did not appear to agree on the approach to in-person classes.

“We’ll have more detailed guidance available on reopeningRI.com by the end of next week,” said Audrey Lucas, Deputy Communications Director for Raimondo’s office.

“As of now, we don’t know what the state’s plan actually is. Yesterday the Governor said that the superintendents will have to “lead” through this. Well, the Governor and RIDE are the ones who really have to lead here in terms of laying down clear, unequivocal guidelines. I fear that they’ll issue very broad parameters and tell the districts to ‘figure it out” and we’ll have 36 districts interpreting it 36 different ways,” Testa said.

Secondary classes an unsolved challenge

Testa said it’s impossible to keep the middle and high school students in the same grouping or cohort – to keep the same students grouped together throughout the class day – one of the approaches to limiting risk of exposure to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“But, in my view, all schools need to open because I don’t think that distance learning is very effective for a large segment of our students,” Testa said.
“And when schools open, what happens if students or staff contract the virus? What kind of legal liability will a school district have in that case?” Testa asked, noting that the state should consider a ‘hold harmless’ provision for school districts.

Busing a logistical, financial concern

Aside from the secondary class grouping issue, Testa said he’s also concerned there won’t be enough buses and drivers to go around if districts have to transport smaller numbers of students per run.
“And the costs of that will be substantial,” he said.
Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at editor@warwickpost.com with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

NOW, CHECK OUT THIS:
School Committee Votes $6M Bus Budget Cut