PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The countdown to the school year is on, and Gov. Gina Raimondo said remote learning will be an option for students whose parents are apprehensive about sending them back.
During her weekly coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Raimondo said no one would be “forced” to send their children back to school in person.
“I believe that that’s the right way to do this,” Raimondo said. “It’s our job to set this up and have it be safe – have an in-person option and then give parents some time to get comfortable, rather than saying, ‘If you don’t show up, your kid is marked absent.'”
Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said that school will reopen “only if it’s safe.”
Districts are required to have plans for full in-person learning, distance learning and a hybrid model posted online by Friday, and the decision on which scenario to use will be made around Aug. 16.
“There are going to be options,” Infante-Green said. “Full in-person options, online options.”
Tom DiPaola, the executive director of the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association tells Eyewitness News that this is a move in the right direction.
“We knew all along that there was going to have to be a remote or distance component, and the reason for that is that there are kids and teachers who may have medical conditions,” he said. “We also know, given the circumstances, there will be kids and adults who have to be quarantined.”
But even so, several Rhode Island educators tell Eyewitness News that while students are given the option to stay home, teachers do not have an option.
Stephanie Meuse, a teacher in Central Falls, questions if this option will ever be available to teachers.
“I don’t think it’s not what needs to happen, but it’s not the end of what needs to happen, the fact is that teachers are not even being offered an option,” Meuse said.
Meuse helped organize a car rally earlier this week advocating for a safe return to school come fall.
Teacher Nicole Casey tells Eyewitness News that while it’s great for students to have the option, no one is thinking of the teachers.
“I feel like it’s a good move, but it doesn’t help the teachers or school staff who don’t have that option,” she said.