An Update from Governor Raimondo:
"Hello friend, Over the last few months, Rhode Island has led the way in distance learning. We didn’t throw in the towel when a lot of other states did. Instead, we found ways to make it work. Teachers, parents, and students adapted to new ways of teaching and learning almost overnight. But through hard work and determination, we’ve learned that we can do it. Kids can successfully learn from home – and that’s an important progress in education. Despite this, I also know there is no replacement for in-person learning. The connections our kids make in the classroom with their peers and their teachers can’t ever be fully replaced by virtual experiences. And beyond that -- getting school going again is also a big part of our economic reopening. Having school open means parents can get back to work too. That's why I am setting the goal today that we return to full in-person school this fall on August 31st.
We expect all districts to be working toward the in-person August 31 opening goal in the coming weeks and months. Just like everything that has reopened, school won’t be exactly like it was before. We may have to plan for fewer kids on our buses, desks spread further apart, and staggered start times for different grades. It will certainly mean more cleaning. And every district will have to be prepared to continue to offer distance learning throughout the year for when students are sick, quarantined, or not able to return to in-person learning. We also recognize that different communities have different needs. Each district will have to submit a plan for how they will operate under the new rules. Throughout the summer, RIDE will continue to provide support and share the most up to date information we have to ensure that every district has the support they need to reopen. What we’re talking about here is not the "new normal." It’s rebuilding a stronger Rhode Island. Normal was the old way of doing business. Instead, we’re going to take the lessons we’ve learned from this virus and apply them to in-person learning. From now on, when school buildings are closed, learning will still go on. And because we had such great success putting all our schools on one calendar during distance learning, we are going to keep that approach for the next school year. All public school districts will use the same base statewide calendar during the 2020-2021 year. We also know that safely going back to school will require more investment. Safely getting kids to school may require more buses. Returning to school will certainly require more cleaning products. It may require more staff and more technology. To help districts with some of these additional expenses, we will be distributing $42 million in CARES act funding to schools to support the safe return of students and teachers. I also expect more resources may be necessary. But this is a strong start.
This virus has been so hard on everyone. That’s particularly true of our senior class who have missed out on so many in person milestones. I want to remind everyone that we have a special statewide graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020. This Monday, June 15 at 7PM, ‘Your Year 2020’ will air on Rhode Island PBS. We’ve lined up some exciting guests for you: Actress Viola Davis will deliver the keynote address, we have shout-outs from members of the Patriots and musical performances from Rhode Island’s own Billy Gillman and more. It will also feature highlight personal messages from the Class of 2020. And right after the graduation ceremony, we have a virtual concert for our grads that will also air on Rhode Island PBS. UNITED FOR GRADS will include musical performances from Grammy-nominated musician Jon Batiste, Walk the Moon and others. Shout-outs from celebrities will include Stephen Colbert, Shepard Fairey, who designed our Angel of Hope image, and more. I can’t wait for you all to see it. We're all in this together. -Gina Raimondo Governor"