A major Rhode Island teachers union is calling on school districts across the state to switch to remote learning for at least the next week as a wave of new coronavirus infections has left many schools understaffed.
National Education Association Rhode Island President Larry Purtill said many local union leaders said at a recent meeting that the return to school from the winter break is “not healthy or safe” in their districts.
“NEARI leadership has engaged in multiple conversations with the governor’s office as well as with various lawmakers and two things are abundantly clear,” Purtill said. “First, decision making as to whether schools should remain open or move to distance learning will be made at the local level.” Second, he aid there is “extraordinary pressure” from the state departments of education and health to keep schools open.
Although some schools have switched to remote learning, the state Department of Education said in-person learning remains the best option.
“The disruption to learning caused by the pandemic had a significant impact on student achievement and growth, and in-person learning provides access to critical academic and social-emotional supports,” the department said in a statement.