RI Supt. Association: Busing a big concern for upcoming school year

School Updates

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The head of the state’s Superintendents Association tells Eyewitness News that, when it comes to the upcoming school year, he is most concerned about students being bused to and from school safely.

Executive Director of the Rhode Island Schools Superintendents Association Thomas DiPaola said some districts have already submitted their plans this week, which are due by Friday.

“It’s not too approve them, but rather to get feedback,” DiPaola said.

He said busing is a big concern because with the state’s new guidelines, less kids will be able to ride the bus.

“Even if districts had all the money in the world to spend, the buses aren’t available nor are there drivers to staff the buses,” he said. 

DiPaola said some districts are discussing other options to reduce the number of kids in class to help deal with transportation challenges.

“Some sort of an alternating schedule whether it’s every other day, whether it’s partial day whether it’s every couple days,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a variety of different approaches with that – and a lot of that depends on everything from the community demographics to the community geography.”

DiPaola said each district’s plan will be different because some areas of the state were hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic than others. 

“Many of the Rhode Island districts have conducted surveys of their education communities, including parents to try and get a sense for where people are at,” he said.

Target 12 has learned that at least 50% of parents in Coventry, Cranston and Burrillville want to see students back in school this fall.

Nearly 28% of parents who were surveyed in North Providence said they were comfortable with sending their child back to school this fall, while just a little more than 40% of parents in Exeter/West Greenwich and Chariho would also like to see their kids return to school.

Approximately 48% of families and parents surveyed in the Bristol Warren Regional School District said they were comfortable with sending their children back to school for the fall.

DiPaola did not say whether some students who have preexisting health conditions will have to use distance learning and it’s unclear if that option will be available for parents who want to keep their children home.

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