RI Gov. Raimondo Delays First Day of School to Sept. 14

The governor had wanted schools to reopen on Aug. 31

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Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday the start of school in Rhode Island will be delayed by a couple more weeks to give administrators and families more time to prepare amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Raimondo made the announcement at an afternoon news conference saying school will now start Sept. 14.

"It gives schools a little more time to be ready," Raimondo said.

A final determination on whether schools go back in-person, remotely or by using the hybrid model will be made at the end of the month, Raimondo said.

The last day of school will now be pushed back to June 25 to allow students their required 177 days of learning, the governor said.

The governor had wanted schools to reopen on Aug. 31.

The governor said it's been a "herculean task" to get schools open because a number of factors need to be in place. Among those factors are whether schools have proper ventilation, what transportation plans are in place for students, whether stable groups can be maintained and how mask-wearing will be enforced.

The governor added that Rhode Island is not where it should be in terms of having rapid testing in schools.

The state has purchased eight rapid testing machines and is part of a 10-state collaborative to purchase testing kits, Raimondo said, to help meet its testing goal.

Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said at the news conference parents "know what's best" for their families about whether they want to send their children back to school in-person or remotely.

"We're not compromising safety as we move forward," Infante-Green said.

Separately, the governor reiterated the need for Rhode Islanders to adhere to the social gathering limit of 15 people, which some residents still don't seem to be aware of.

She also said last week's order to close bars at 1 p.m. still stands and won't change until the number of coronavirus cases comes down.

Rhode Island has recently seen an uptick in coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, there were two new deaths and 74 new positive cases reported, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health. The total number of deaths now stands at 1,018 while the total number of cases is 20,129.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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