PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence Public School District has announced a change to their partial reopening plan, deciding to stagger the return of pre-K through 5th grade students over the course of a week.
Providence is one of two school districts in Rhode Island that did not meet the five metrics needed to fully reopen in person, according to the state.
Under a partial reopening model, the district initially planned to bring back all elementary school students full time on Sept. 14, other than those who enrolled in the virtual learning academy. But the new plan announced Wednesday would bring back the youngest students first and stagger the arrival of older grades until Sept. 21.
“By implementing a staggered opening, we are intentionally limiting the number of elementary school students in our buildings for the first week of school, so that the school community can better focus on helping our youngest students adjust to returning to school, some for the first time ever and some after a sixth-month absence,” Superintendent Harrison Peters said in a statement.
The original plan would have brought 8,500 students back in person on Sept. 14.
Under the new plan, Pre-K, kindergarten and 1st grade will start on Sept. 14, according to the school district, while students in 2nd and 3rd grade will do three days of distance learning before returning on Sept. 17.
Grades 4 and 5 will begin their in-person learning on Sept. 21, with distance learning for the first week from Sept. 14 through 18.
“This allows our teachers to set routines with their youngest learners around mask-wearing and social distancing before the full school population returns for the year,” said Susan Chin, who recently took the newly-created role of network superintendent for Providence’s elementary schools.
For the rest of Providence schools, the newest middle and high schoolers (6th and 9th grades) will start school alternating between in-school and remote learning days on a two-week rotation. Students in grades 7, 10, 11 and 12 will start out distance learning, but will transition to the alternating schedule later in September (grades 7 and 10) and October (grades 8, 11 and 12).