PROVIDENCE, R.I (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee visited local schools Thursday morning to hear from students and staff about their needs, concerns, and accomplishments after a first full month of school back in session.
McKee and Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green toured Dunn’s Corners Elementary in Westerly, and Old County Road Elementary in Smithfield as possible pilots for the new “test and stay” program, aimed at decreasing the number of students who need to miss class due to quarantine protocols.
McKee and Infante-Green said their main priority is to keep children and teachers in the classroom after speaking with children who had to quarantine, sometimes more than once, for being considered a close contact.
The program allows students to remain at home and continue to attend class while undergoing multiple days of rapid testing.
“That means that they test negative, they stay in school. Obviously, if they test positive, they go home,” McKee said. “We’re trying to make sure we keep the kids in the classroom and the way you do it is you go out and talk to the people that are working it every day.”
Another issue districts are facing is staffing. In Smithfield, the town manager said school administrators step into the classroom if they do not have enough teachers.
The district said that while it’s still an issue, it’s getting better than it was right when the pandemic began.