Gov. Gina Raimondo put public and private schools on a single calendar to simplify reopening. She opened 14 rapid testing locations exclusively for students and teaching staff, and set up a statewide contact tracing system just for schools.
“Because we had those conversations, we had the protocol and the procedures in place, my team knew what to do,” said Sindy Giard, the school’s principal. “When something like this happens, you have to review your plan and tweak it a little bit.”
Dorsey, the principal in Smithfield, regularly refers to an exhaustive protocol guide that the state put out to help educators think through possible scenarios. “The protocols are awesome,” she said. “Anytime I’m like, ‘What kind of sign am I supposed to have in the bathrooms?’ I just look it up.”
Administrators and health officials say the ultimate success of Rhode Island’s plan isn’t about avoiding coronavirus cases altogether — that’s just not realistic — but about how the system handles them.