PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s going to be a busy morning in Providence and across the state as students start heading back to school.
There are about 22,000 students in the capital city and most are waking up Monday morning to the start of a new school year.
One principal in the city previously told 12 News that the start of the school year means a clean slate, the first page of a new notebook feeling.
Going into the new school year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has loosened guidance on testing students who may have been close contacts but have no symptoms. Masking is also optional.
Providence Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Javier Montañez said the district will still be doing testing for the first full week and anytime throughout the year that students return from breaks.
“We still have thousands of air purifiers with new filters, upgrading our cleaning how often we clean, we are always going to ask people and push vaccines so we’re doing a lot to make sure it is as safe as we can make it for them,” Montañez said.
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He added he is also proud of the work that the staff has done over the summer.
“Some buildings are sharing a building, like the D’Abate building, and those teachers have gone above and beyond to make sure it’s up and running. The movers moving the furniture. So much that’s going on and the love that we have for the work that we’re doing, it’s hard work, it’s not easy work, it’s hard work, but everyone is chipping in to make this opening day the best it can be,” he said.
12 News also spoke to Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green ahead of the new school year.
“Just so excited to see your kids. This is going to be a wonderful year,” she said. “We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that your kids continue to learn and that school is a place they want to come to and that they enjoy every minute of the day.”
The past two school years have been riddles with remote learning and social distancing. Montañez says the disrupted learning affected students but educators are ready for the challenge.
“We had over 3,000 students participate in summer learning K-12 and I’m like ‘this is great.’ What is that we need to do to prepare ourselves, teachers administrators, and professional development to make sure we are meeting the students’ needs to close that achievement gap,” Montañez explained.
Another big issue facing the district is that it is still under state control. The takeover happened in 2019, shortly before the pandemic, and all three candidates for mayor believe that the city should take back control.
Tonight on 12 News at 5 p.m., Target 12 Investigator Steph Machado sits down with R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green to go in-depth about the future of the state takeover and the issue of teacher shortages.