WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — In a virtual meeting Wednesday morning, the Warwick School Committee revoked a previous decision to move kindergarten students to Veterans Memorial Middle School to begin in-person learning.
In a 5-0 vote, the committee decided to have kindergarteners continue distance learning before they’re placed in each of their home schools once the facilities are fitted with needed air purifiers.
The committee, which opted to begin the year with full remote learning, purchased 600 air purifiers using CARES Act funding and previously estimated that both the purchase and installation, as well as the electrical upgrades needed to support them, would take roughly two to three months to complete.
Before the vote was taken, members expressed concern about the new timeline to get the air purifiers delivered. School leaders said it would be on or about October 23.
“I’m hoping the timeline is true and the company will stick to the timelines they promised us,” one school committee member said.
With the new timeline, other members brought up the $100,000 price tag.
“That’s a lot of money for, at least as we sit here today, to spend over a period of about four weeks,” David Testa said.
Additionally, members were concerned about the possible social and emotional repercussions the decision could have on kindergartners, since it would likely be their first time in any school.
If the school committee was to move forward with its original plan to get students into Vets Middle School before the air purifiers arrived, it would mean moving them into a new building, then returning home for distance learning, and then shifting them back to in-person learning in their home schools.
“It’s the confusion for the kids to start at Vets and then go back to their other room. It’s a lot of adjustment for little kids of that age,” Judith Cobden said.
Ultimately, the committee voted unanimously to wait for the purifiers to arrive and be installed before moving students back into any school building.
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