Education

Parents demand transparency and options around school reopening

“Two days ago I tried to sign him up for online school, and they’re not letting me in,” said Helena Dahm, a parent of a child at Veazie. “They want my son to come in person… I don’t want my son to be present in school. It’s not safe for him.” A loose affiliation of Providence public school parents protested
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Published on September 10, 2020
By Steve Ahlquist

Two days ago I tried to sign him up for online school, and they’re not letting me in,” said Helena Dahm, a parent of a child at Veazie. “They want my son to come in person… I don’t want my son to be present in school. It’s not safe for him.”


A loose affiliation of Providence public school parents protested outside Veazie Street Elementary School on Wednesday to demand transparency and adequate State funding for Covid-19 safety precautions. The parents, who have children attending Bishop, Carnevale, Highlander, Esek Hopkins, Kennedy, Carl Lauro, Martin Luther King, Pleasant View, Reservoir Ave, Vartan Gregorian and Veazie Schools, have a series of demands for the Rhode Island Department of Education and Governor Gina Raimondo.

School officials, said Jenna Karlin, one of the organizers, “are not making it easy to get information.” This lack of information is making it hard for parents to decide on whether to send their children back to school for in person learning.

Jenna Karlin

The information these parents are looking for includes:

  • Completed walk through checklists for each school. Allow relevant members of the public to independently verify the information.
  • Detailed information explaining how each classroom in each school will have proper ventilation (HVAC, open windows and fans, portable air cleaners with HEPA filters, etc) and how PPSD will verify ventilation performance on an ongoing basis.
  • The number of students per classroom
  • The desk spacing for each classroom (how far apart are seats)?
  • Daily data tracking per school – similar to the data RIDOH provides for the state and municipalities (total tests, total positive cases, tests prior day, new positive cases, percent positive prior day).
  • To ensure all schools have the resources they need, we also call on the State to provide funding to meet all Covid-19 safety precautions.

Rhode island Governor Gina Raimondo has repeatedly said that families will have the choice to opt-out of in-person learning, but the time to make that choice seems to have lapsed weeks ago, leaving parents like Helena Dahm stranded.

“Two days ago I tried to sign him up for online school, and they’re not letting me in,” said Helena Dahm, a parent of a child at Veazie. “They want my son to come in person… I don’t want my son to be present in school. It’s not safe for him.”

“So you don’t have an option?” asked UpriseRI.

“I don’t have an option,” said Dahm.

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