Metrics for Reopening Our Schools Safely

Rhode Island has been and remains a leader in ensuring education continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students do better when they are together with their teachers in the classroom. But we can only get to that point if we can guarantee it is safe for everyone involved.
Keeping our students, educators, and communities safe and healthy – with as little impact as possible on a quality education – drives all our decision making on school reopening. On July 29, we released the metrics, or checklist, that we will use to decide under which scenario we can safely begin the 2020-21 school year on August 31:
1

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is tracking statewide data to ensure we’re continuing to see the right public health trends, which will be critical to deciding if in-person learning is advisable.

2

RIDOH is also tracking municipal readiness to ensure the incidence rates within our cities and towns are not above a certain level.

3

Having the ability to test all symptomatic staff and students and getting those tests results back in an average of 48-72 hours.

4

Every school has more than sufficient cleaning supplies, soap and hand sanitizer for every student and staff member, as well as face masks in case a student or teacher leaves theirs at home.

5

We’re looking at the operational readiness of our schools — including transportation, processes to screen everyone who enters our schools, and a detailed response protocol in case someone is ill, which are outlined in their reopening plans.

Rhode Island state leaders will continue to put communities at the center of our decision making. This means not returning anyone to the classroom until we meet all of these metrics and have confidence that we can make school happen safely. We will support local school leaders to make sure that our students continue learning this fall and throughout the school year – in any one of our scenarios.