Editor’s note: This story’s headline and lead originally reported five schools were delayed, though the story reported all six that have been delayed.
WARWICK,RI — The beginning of classes will be delayed by three days at six schools, including Robertson, Oakland Beach, Greenwood, Warwick Early Learning Center, Sherman, and Veterans Middle, due to ongoing ADA projects which have fallen behind schedule.
The Career and Technical Center, which is also undergoing renovations, will open on time.
Kevin Oliver, Facilities Maintenance and Operations Manager, attributed the delays to supply chain issues and manpower issues.
“We’ve done our best, but we hope to have them done by Friday,” Oliver added. “At that point, we can move forward with the cleaning.”
Dambruch said the schools will be open during the evenings and on weekends so the teachers have enough time to set up their classrooms.
The first day of school is Sept. 1 for all students K through 12. Sept. 6 is Labor Day and Sept. 7 is Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.
The majority of respondents in a district-wide survey – 90.3 percent – were pleased with the way the schools handled COVID-19 safety concerns and protocols. Superintendent Lynn Dambruch shared the results at Wednesday’s school committee meeting.
“We wanted to know what was working and what wasn’t working,” Dambruch said.
Approximately 2,500 respondents participated in the survey. 93 percent were parents, six percent were faculty and staff, and one percent were students.
In the survey, 73.4 percent cited e-mail as the most effective mode of communication, while 75.8 percent of the respondents said they felt either safe or very safe going to and sending their child to school.
Health Concerns was the top issue with the reopening of schools, at 38.4 percent. Academic concerns were cited by 28.2 percent, and social emotional concerns were named by 26.5 percent.
“I think that’s a vote of confidence in the protocols that you’ve developed,” committee member David Testa said to Dambruch.
Committee chair Judy Cobden was pleased by the results: “I think people are very eager to be in class in a safe manner.”
Dambruch and Assistant Superintendent William McCaffrey presented their school reopening plan to the committee. Each school will have an isolation room for anyone displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. Hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms, offices, and hallways. The full plan will be posted on the district’s website – https://www.warwickschools.org on Friday.
The committee also approved a revised Health and Safety policy. It reads in part:
Masks will be required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, until the Superintendent/School Committee deem it safe to make masks optional in school. This decision will be made, in part, by the most current CDC and Rhode Island Department of Health guidance and other mitigating factors.
Masks must also be worn by all students on the bus. Masks must fully cover the nose and mouth.
A student may take off a mask when it is approved by a teacher or school administrator in situations where social distancing and/or other medical guidance permits it.
During sports and related activities, all athletes must follow the athletic guidance from the Superintendent (or designee), which is informed by the Rhode Island Principals’ Committee on Athletics, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League and the CDC based on the requirement of their individual sport. Otherwise, masks/face coverings are not required for outdoor activities.
The District shall also adhere to RIDE and RIDOH published re-opening mitigation strategies such as indoor spacing, grouping, etc. as the same may change from time to time.
Some infectious diseases, viruses, etc., may be so dangerous and the risk of casual transmission so great, that effective response will require broader measures. Based upon specific recommendations from local/state and/or federal health authorities, the Superintendent is authorized to implement COVID testing in schools. Parents who wish to allow their child to be
tested when showing symptoms will sign a consent form at the start of the school year. Parents may also consent to have their child tested randomly when asymptomatic. School nurse teachers will test staff members or students (with signed consent), either symptomatic or asymptomatic,
with a Binex test or the most recent recommended test by the CDC and RIDOH.
The committee also approved new positions, including three FTE’s – two at Toll Gate and one at Pilgrim, to cover Special Education IEP services. These positions will be funded by re-prioritizing other projects that are in the general fund as student services remain the priority.
Dr. Anne Siesel, who serves as Coordinator of Federal and Competitive Grants, had identified an increased need for support for our homeless families due to COVID. A part-time Transitional Advocate will be funded with the McKinney-Vento grant and will have no additional cost to the district. Also as a COVID response, additional nursing services will be required. A part-time nurse will perform district wide COVID testing to athletes, symptomatic individuals, as well as conduct random samplings of asymptomatic individuals.
This is a test