CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — After more than a year of distance learning, students across the state will start the school year back in the classroom.
Central Falls students will be the first to head back on Friday morning, and school officials say they have been busy getting everything ready for when they walk through the doors.
In the days leading up to the first day of school, officials and volunteers went door-to-door visiting hundreds of families welcoming new students, and explaining the COVID protocols that will be in place for the school year.
This is the third school year that will be impacted by the pandemic and local school leaders worked with state officials over the entire summer to prepare, utilizing some of the prevention tools that we have become accustomed to. For example, enhanced cleaning and ventilation, physical distancing, and mask-wearing.
Last week, Gov. Dan McKee signed an executive order requiring that masks be worn in schools when students and teachers return to the classroom.
McKee said amid the surge of infections fueled by the delta variant, along with pressure from his fellow state leaders, he said it’s crucial to do everything possible to protect children and their ability to learn in schools, especially since those under the age of 12 aren’t yet eligible to get vaccinated.
Mask-wearing has been a high-interest topic over the last few months, one R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott spoke about during a virtual back-to-school town hall earlier this week.
“A mask will prevent you from unknowingly spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to someone else. Everyone wearing it really helps limiting it, especially with the Delta variant strain, which is significantly more transmissible,” she explained.
Another tool in the fight against COVID that wasn’t readily available during the previous school years is the vaccine.
R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green says over 90% of teachers have been vaccinated, and state leaders continue uring students 12 years and older who haven’t been vaccinated yet, to get the shot.