Infante-Green: RI on track to begin statewide K-12 surveillance testing

School Updates

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Nearly all of the state’s school districts are ready to begin routinely testing asymptomatic K-12 students and staff for the coronavirus, according to R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green.

During her weekly interview with 12 News Now at 4 anchor Kim Kalunian, Infante-Green said the state is on track to begin its surveillance testing program in some school districts next week.

She said they were able to work out all of the kinks during pilot programs in Providence, Central Falls and Lincoln, which were all completed prior to winter break.

Tests will be administered either on school grounds or in a mobile unit set up nearby.

“Every school district will do it differently because it takes manpower,” Infante-Green explained, saying that Providence, for example, plans to offer surveillance testing twice a month.

When it comes to whether the state can deny a student access to public school if their family opts to not receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Infante-Green said they have “not made any determination.”

“Right now, kids are not recommended to take the vaccine, so it’s a different conversation at the school level,” Infante-Green said.

The state is currently preparing to enter Phase 2 of its vaccination distribution plan, which will include all K-12 teachers, staff members and childcare providers.

When asked whether teachers would be required to get vaccinated, she said they’re simply “not there yet.”

“We’re working all of that out as we speak,” she said.

Infante-Green said she is hopeful that, come May, the state will be able to conduct traditional graduation ceremonies.

“We learned a lot last year and we are going. to be prepared for whatever comes our way, but my fingers are crossed that we can have what we know as a traditional graduation,” she said.

This story has been updated to clarify that not all districts will offering bi-monthly testing.

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