Rhode Island

Raimondo Hopes to Have RI Students Back in Classrooms Aug. 31

Among the changes students, teachers and staff will see once schools reopen are increased cleaning, fewer students on buses and spaced desks

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Gov. Gina Raimondo hopes to have students in Rhode Island back in classrooms on Aug. 31 after moving to remote learning back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Raimondo made the announcement Wednesday during a news conference saying that teachers and parents have done well with distance learning but it's time to get back into the classroom.

"Even though we're setting a goal of Aug. 31, it will look different," Raimondo said.

The governor said among the changes students, teachers and staff will see once schools reopen are that there will be increased cleaning, fewer students on buses, spaced desks and possibly wearing cloth masks.

"There's no substitute for in-person learning," Raimondo said. "We also need to get schools open again so we can get our economy going."

On June 19, health and safety guidelines will be provided on the Reopening RI website and each school district will be required to submit their plans for how they will operate. Final plans must be submitted to the state by July 17, Raimondo said.

Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, who was also at Wednesday's news conference, said by Aug. 31 the state, working with the health department, will be ready to "provide a safe environment for all involved."

Infante-Green also discussed the school year calendar which puts all Rhode Island schools on the same schedules.

The governor had said Monday that Rhode Island is ramping up testing for asymptomatic people as part of an "early warning detection system" to slow any further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Under the plan, people who work in "close-contact" workplaces can sign up for a free, rapid coronavirus test. Such people include those who work in hair and nail salons, gyms, tattoo and tanning parlors as well as masseuses.

Raimondo added that all individuals who have participated in recent anti-racism protests were eligible for tests and should get one.

Also eligible for the tests are child care workers. The testing is expected to be expanded to people in the manufacturing, education, retail and other sectors in the future, Raimondo said.

The governor mentioned that she and her husband were tested Wednesday morning.

"It's really not that bad. I was tested negative," she said.

As of Wednesday, there were four new deaths as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health. The death toll stands at 812.

There were 66 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Wednesday, bringing the state's total to 15,756.

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