COVID-19: One Year Later

As we mark one year since COVID-19 arrived in Rhode Island, 12 News has special reports-- they’re stories of heartache, heroes and hope.

‘There’s no going back’: Infante-Green reflects on the past year and the future ahead

COVID-19 One Year Later

As we approach one year since COVID-19 arrived in Rhode Island, 12 News is bringing you special reports all this week at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. They’re stories of heartache, heroes and hope.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Looking back at the past year, R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said the hardest day was near the beginning of the pandemic when they made the decision to close the state’s schools.

Infante-Green said she didn’t sleep for three days afterwards.

“That was a really intense day,” she said. “It was a very difficult decision, because none of us really knew what we were going to encounter.”

While it’s still unclear how great of a long-term impact the pandemic will have on students’ education and social growth, Infante-Green said there’s no question there needs to be innovation for the future.

“There’s no going back,” she said. “What we had prior to the pandemic was OK in some places and terrible in others. This is an opportunity for us to really reinvent what kids need and what parents want to see in their school systems, so let’s think out of the box.”

Watch R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green’s full interview in the video below.

Infante-Green said they have been distributing surveys to students to try to measure the socio-emotional impacts of this past year.

“Measuring it is really important, because if not, we are just guessing,” she said.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Education, 149 schools were mostly in-person, 130 were virtual and 69 were in a hybrid model as of February 1. Infante-Green said the majority of the state’s elementary school students are learning in their physical classrooms.

She said there are currently no plans to eliminate the option for families to keep their children learning remotely this academic year, though she hopes for full in-person learning to resume in the fall.

Infante-Green added how proud she is of the work they have done and with being recognized on a national level.

“We have a lot of states reaching out to us trying to learn from us, so I want us to take a moment to thank everyone that has made this happen,” she said. “The teachers that have been resilient, the superintendents, the principals, the parents.”

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