State Watch

Rhode Island pushes back school openings by two weeks

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said she will be delaying the reopening of schools by a couple of weeks as plans are made to accommodate for the coronavirus pandemic. 

Raimondo said Wednesday the plan may end up being a hybrid of remote and in-person learning. 

"Just commit yourselves to the children and we'll figure it out. Today I'm saying give us all another couple of weeks to figure it out," she said during a briefing

Schools were set to reopen on Aug. 31 but the new reopening date will now be Sept. 14, Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green confirmed to WPRI on Tuesday. 

The commissioner also said in a letter to superintendents that the final announcement of whether it's safe for districts to reopen in person is expected the week of Aug. 31, rather than Aug. 17, according to the outlet. 

Raimondo said Wednesday she wants to monitor data closer to the first day on Sept. 14 while giving school leaders more time to prepare. 

"We're not going to open schools until they're safe," Raimondo said at the briefing, according to WPRI. "We're not going to open schools until we're sure and confident that won't happen because we have the systems in place to prevent that from happening."

The governor also said the start date is still subject to change, when asked if the calendar may shift again.  

"Given that we live in a world right now where anything is possible and this virus changes things in the space of a week or two, I would say yes. However ... [it is] more likely [for us] to go back to distance learning or hybrid than to change the calendar," she said. 

As Raimondo pushed back the school start date, the state's health department reported 74 new coronavirus cases and two additional COVID-19 related deaths, according to WPRI.