“Rather than finding fault, criticizing and shaming the process or blaming teachers, perhaps the past five months state leaders should have worked to find solutions to the areas that were identified as being in need, or needing to change, or making access to WiFi more equitable…“
Educators and activists gathered at the Rhode Island State House Friday afternoon to let Governor Gina Raimondo know that they are not in favor of reopening schools during the pandemic. The event, organized by Safe Return to School RI, included a car rally circling the State House as a small speaking program took place on the south lawn.
Stephanie Meuse, an educator and parent who organized the rally with Ashley Breault, had just delivered a petition to Governor Raimondo. She was unhappy with Governor Raimondo’s virtual interview with Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The Governor, said Meuse, asked Fauci “not questions from your constituents, but questions about scenarios for returning to school that are currently fiscally and logistically impossible for the majority of schools in Rhode island.
Meuse took issue with Fauci and Raimondo declaring Rhode Island a “green” state, one in which the probability of a Covid resurgence is generally low and controllable.
“Rhode Island is green by one measure and one measure only,” said Meuse, “by the White House’s elusive ‘red, yellow, green measure.’ This metric has been rebutted by numerous public health experts, including the Harvard Global Health Institute.”
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Meuse then read comments from Maribeth Calabro, President of the Providence Teacher’s Union.
“I take serious issue with the accusation by the Governor that returning to distance learning is ‘throwing in the towel'” said Calabro. “That is offensive to every educator, every student, every parent who works, struggles and powered through distance learning in the spring…
“Rather than finding fault, criticizing and shaming the process or blaming teachers,” continued Calabro, “perhaps the past five months state leaders should have worked to find solutions to the areas that were identified as being in need, or needing to change, or making access to WiFi more equitable.
“Five months. That is a long time to address ventilation, windows working, procuring ionization fans, working with teams of parents, community members, students and teachers along with state DOH and RIDE to develop realistic plans.”
“The state is pitting parents and teachers against one another,” said Andira Alves, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation. “That is the way they keep us weak- By dividing up the community and giving privileges to some and oppression to others.
“But we see that now, and that can’t work. We’re all in the same boat now. People who could have lived died unnecessarily. There are people who will die because of school reopening, and it doesn’t have to be like that.”
“We cannot let communities of color and communities at the heart of this go through any more,” said Kenda Anderson, who is running for State Senate in District 31 in Warwick. Anderson is an educator, teaching English to immigrants and the undocumented in Central Falls with Progreso Latino. “We need equity and we need safe school opening.”
Ashley Breault is a parent and an advocate for Central Falls Schools.
“It only takes one person to pass the virus, and it’s a domino effect after that,” said Breault. “Will the Governor just say sorry for losing your loved ones if a child’s life is lost due to going to school? If a teacher’s life was lost?
Here’s a short video of some of the nearly two dozen automobiles circling the State House: