PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The superintendent of Providence Catholic Schools tells Eyewitness News there is no substitute for being in a building with teachers and classmates, but he will be flexible for those that don’t want to go back to school in person.

“It’s always in the best interest for schools to reopen, if you can get them safe, kids gotta get back to school, they really do,” Superintendent Dan Ferris said.

In total across 39 schools, around 9,000 Rhode Island students are currently enrolled in Catholic school, according to Ferris.

Though they are not mandated to follow state guidelines, Ferris said principals did model their school reopening plans, due last Friday, on the ones sent out by the state.

“Each of the schools have designed their own plan, but we’re working very closely with the R.I. Department of Education guidelines, that template,” Ferris said. “We’ve got the pods where you can limit the amount of students that interact in a day, we’ve got separation in a room, at least 14 feet.”

While he wants children in a school, he understands parents that may not be ready to send their children back, so Ferris said they have developed an alternate remote learning plan.

“If a mother decides I’m just not comfortable sending my kid to school, you can do that and they will be in a full instructional program,” Ferris said.

Two sports will be allowed for elementary and middle school students, while extracurricular activities like choir will not be. When it comes to high school students, they still have to follow the rules set by the Rhode Island Interscholastic League.

“Cross-country and tennis, we are going to be working on that to make sure they are low-risk sports, but if they can not be conducted safely, we’re not going to continue those,” Ferris said.

He said if there is an outbreak or confirmed case, they have a plan ready to go so that schools can move quickly to virtual learning.