In-person learning to begin for all districts Aug. 31

Raimondo sets statewide school calendar

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 5:30pm

Gov. Gina Raimondo announced this week that the entire state will follow a standardized school year calendar that will begin for all cities and towns on Aug. 31.

Raimondo also announced that in-person learning will also start in the new school year, but that it will be different than it has been in years past. The governor said that all school districts must submit a plan to the state Department of Education that will allow for in-person learning, some component of distance learning and, if there is a setback in keeping the virus at bay, a plan for all students attending class online.

At her now thrice-weekly coronavirus press conference, Raimondo asked a rhetorical question: “How can you announce this now? How can you be so certain now?”

She answered, “The truth is I don’t know what Aug. 31 will look like. I have led based on science, data and facts and all public officials say you can reopen by Aug. 31 based on all the data we have. It will take an incredible amount of planning to get us there safely.” She said that districts need to plan for “nearly all the students being in school, a plan for a hybrid or, God forbid, there is a resurgence and we have to go back to distance learning, so we need to get to work now.”

Raimondo said that the state will provide protocols and guidelines by June 19. All school districts must have their plans submitted by July 17.

“School is on everybody’s mind. It’s the question I’m asked about the most often. Every day, wherever I go, is ‘How is school going? What’s going on in the fall?” Raimondo said. “There is no substitute for in-person learning. Our children deserve and will do better with in-person learning. Having school open means that parents can go back to work.”

With that, Raimondo said, “I think it’s time to get back to full in-person school this fall… We will work our tails off so that when school opens it will be safe for students, educators, parents, social workers.”

All cities and towns will celebrate graduations on June 2, 2021 and the final day of school will be June 16 or June 18, depending on when the 180th day of the school year falls.

There will be a statewide graduation event broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Monday, June 15 at 7 p.m. with special guests and performances.

On another note, at her press conference on the previous Monday, June 8, Raimondo said she will be issuing clearer guidelines for weddings after she was asked about a ruling from CommerceRI, the state department that said a wedding planned for July 4 on Block Island could not be held after the Department of Health had given the event the go-ahead.

Raimondo said she was unaware of this specific event and said the wedding could probably go ahead as planned because it was scheduled for July. In June, she pointed out, indoor weddings are now restricted to 25 percent of the seating capacity of the venue, and gatherings of no more than 15 people.

Raimondo said the different decisions by differing government departments was the result of a “miscommunication.”

Secretary Stefan Pryor of Commerce RI, the state’s economic development agency, Dr. Seema Dixit of the R.I. Department of Health, as well as other state officials held a conference call with Block Island businesses on Friday, June 6, and said that Block Island was on the radar for state health officials because of the fact that Block Island “is one of the most popular destinations nationally and internationally,” according to Dr. Dixit.

The Department of Health has created an extensive plan titled “Coronavirus Disease Guidance for Businesses with Temporary/ Seasonal Workers Housed in Communal Living arrangements.”