PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Parents and teachers across Rhode Island converged for a rally at the State House Friday afternoon.
The group delievered a petition to Gov. Gina Raimondo, calling on her to mandate distance learning.
The group — Rhode Island Parents / Educators for Safe Schools and Safe Return to School RI — is calling for distance learning, “until more stringent standards of safety in schools are met and funded.”
The start date for Rhode Island schools has already been pushed back by two weeks, but the petition is also calling for several other actions related to reopening schools revisiting the decision to return to in person learning only after seeing how cases fare during flu season.
The group also asks the state to fund needs like childcare for families during distance learning, wraparound social services, plus “safe and equitable” IEP and 504 accommodations.
Additionally, the group wants the state to provide districts with time and funding for appropriate professional development to support distance learning, plus funding for “accessible technology to provide equitable access” to distance learning for all Rhode Island school children.
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The gathering comes just one day after Raimondo held a virtual forum with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.
Fauci noted with “super spreader” events of the virus occurring indoors, to hold activities like lunch, recess, and classes outside, as much as possible.
He noted mask-wearing and keeping at least six-feet apart is still recommended in both indoor and outdoor settings.
Raimondo said the extra time will allow health officials to shore up the state’s testing capacity and turnaround times, as well as give education officials more time to prepare.