Rhode Island officials have launched an Education Operations Center to provide "real-time support" to public schools ahead of their reopening in September.
During her Monday news conference, Gov. Gina Raimondo said effective immediately, the operations center will be staffed 24/7 by members of the Rhode Island National Guard, Rhode Island Department of Public Health, Rhode Island Department of Education, Rhode Island Department of Transportation, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority and Rhode Island Department of Emergency Management Agency.
The agencies will work together in handling coronavirus testing and contact tracing for schools and will be able to deploy teams to schools amid possible outbreaks, the governor said.
"This operations center will be ready and able to assist with anything our schools need. If they’re running low on hand sanitizer or masks, this team will immediately arrange for the supplies they need," Raimondo said.
The team will also provide logistical support to ensure strong in-person learning, the governor said.
"When they (schools) have a student or staff member who tests positive, this team will be on the ground to test, isolate and quarantine, preventing a large outbreak just as we have done with child care and congregate care settings over the past few months," Raimondo said.
Every school district will have a designated point-of-contact by next week and once schools are open, leaders at the operations center will be prepared to be deployed "on a moment's notice."
More on the Coronavirus in Rhode Island
The governor announced earlier this month that schools would start Sept. 14. instead of the end of the month, as previously planned, to give administrators and families more time to prepare amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, the final determination on whether classes will begin in-person, remote or by hybrid model won't be made until the end of the month, Raimondo said.
There were no new fatalities reported Monday and 39 new positive cases of the novel coronavirus by the Rhode Island Department of Health. The total number of fatalities is 1,035 while the number of positive cases is 21,302, according to health officials.
"We had a percent positive with 1.1%. That's excellent," Raimondo said. "That should make you feel good."
The governor said more than 1,100 inspections were conducted last week and overall compliance by businesses was good. Staff and customer compliance on mask-wearing was 95% while capacity restriction was 98% compliance, Raimondo said. There is still an issue with customers crowding servers.