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Advocates against school reopening protest outside Raimondo press conference

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Governor Raimondo is ignoring science by telling Rhode Islanders that it is safe to return to school,” said Meuse, as DePetro activated some sort of siren on his megaphone. “Governor Raimondo has promised us scientific evidence and instead she ignores the most recent findings.


About forty people, most in cars circling the event, but some holding signs and safely social distancing outside on the sidewalk, gathered at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium as inside, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo held her weekly press conference on COVID-19 and opening schools. The group, Safe Return to School RI, argue that “[t]oo many schools are not fiscally or logistically prepared for an in person return, in any capacity” and are demanding “a return to distance learning until there is funding to follow guidelines and until the most widely accepted safety metrics have been met.”

A much smaller group of people, perhaps four in all, were demanding the full reopening of schools.

As educator and parent Stephanie Meuse spoke outside, and cars circled the building, local right-wing radio host John DePetro heckled her, saying that Trump, Raimondo and Dr Fauci all agree that it is safe for children to return to the classroom.

“Governor Raimondo is ignoring science by telling Rhode Islanders that it is safe to return to school,” said Meuse, as DePetro activated some sort of siren on his megaphone. “Governor Raimondo has promised us scientific evidence and instead she ignores the most recent findings.”

“There is no way that Central Falls schools can reopen,” said Ashley Breault, a parent and an advocate for Central Falls Schools. “Our schools do do have proper ventilation. We have the highest percentage of Covid cases… It is not safe for our teachers, our students…”


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Governor Raimondo acknowledged the protest outside during her press conference.

“For those of your at home who aren’t here, there’s protesters outside,” said Raimondo. “Some are parents outside that say, ‘Real Kids Deserve Real School’ – parents pushing us to get kids back in school, and also folks blowing their horns and such saying it’s not safe to be in school. So that’s what we hear. We hear from everybody.

Here’s my assessment, for what it’s worth. I think teachers, they’re professionals, they love their kids and they want to be back in the classroom doing their job. They realize that distance learning is going to leave a lot of kids behind. But they are demanding, rightfully, that we make it safe for them to do so.

“Which is why I announced today we’re going to do an inspection of every school building before you go back. We’re going to have best in class testing, that the state will run. We’re going to promise that no one ever runs behind of masks and cleaning supplies because if your district does, we’ve got you covered.”

Here’s Governor Raimondo’s full press conference:

The Rhode Island Department of Health and I are giving today’s update on Rhode Island’s response to Coronavirus.

Posted by Gina Raimondo on Monday, August 24, 2020

Cars circling the Vets:

Though Meuse and Breault expressed hope that the Governor might come out and meet with them, that did not happen.

Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade. atomicsteve@gmail.com