Teachers frustrated with delay in state’s back-to-school plan

School Updates

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ By the mid-August, Rhode Islanders will hopefully know what school will look like come fall, whether it be in-person, remote or a combination of the two.

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said Wednesday that it’s too early to say which proposal will be chosen.

“We are planning for all options, we all know that kids benefit from being in schools with their teachers,” Infante-Green said. “We have the responsibility of doing the hard work, and its hard work ─ we have been doing this for 24 hours a day. But yes, we would like for kids to be back in school, those who have kids know how hard it is.”

During a virtual meeting Tuesday, education officials said a formal decision from the Rhode Island Department of Health on whether school districts will reopen in-person fully, partially or not at all might not come until Aug. 17, just two weeks before the start of school.

But some parents and teachers tell Eyewitness News they’re frustrated, especially with the most recent delay in plans.

First-grade teacher Becky Hillier tuned in to the virtual meeting in hopes of getting some answers, and was disappointed when none of the questions asked were addressed.

“I feel like there was nothing answered, basically, that was asked, they gave us an email address to send questions to, they didn’t pull up any questions,” Hillier said.

Rashelle Madieros, a second-grade teacher in Providence, said she also tuned in hoping for more guidance.

“Both of my children at home have Asthma and, God forbid, I catch this virus while I’m at work, I’m now exposing my own children,” Madeiros said. “I think we are going to see a spread across districts because most teachers don’t live where they work.”

Hillier and Madeiros both tell Eyewitness News that teachers play a key role in students returning to school, but they feel as if the state is not asking for their input on the decision.

Last week, Eyewitness News learned eight school districts sent out their own surveys, to gauge how parents feel. Providence was not one of those districts.

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