NORTH KINGSTOWN — The North Kingstown School Committee had its bi-monthly meeting on March 23 — one of the hot ticket agenda items again regarded COVID-19.
During his report to the board, North Kingstown Superintendent Phil Auger explained that the district along with other districts in the state are still awaiting new guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Health in regards to what they can and can not do, as new CDC guidelines continue to come out.
“As things stand right now we don’t have an updated Department of Health playbook for schools,” Auger said.
He explained that currently many people across the state are meeting regularly in regards to COVID-19 and schools.
“There’s a lot of different voices coming together right now,” Auger said
One thing that they have been discussing specifically, Auger said, is in regards to proms and graduations. He said that he was hopeful to have firm guidance for the meeting but didn’t.
Speaking in support of having an in-person graduation and prom was North Kingstown High School Senior Jacob Cedor.
“I want to reinforce how important this is for students’ mental health,” Cedor said about having an in-person graduation and prom this year.
Cedor explained that he thinks they should have a week in between April Vacation and an in-person return to school full time.
This was in reference to an email sent out by Auger on March 13 to the high school community.
“This month we are noticing signs of hope and signs of caution as we continue with school in the 2020-21 school year. Overall, we are also seeing a reduction in community spread, improved guidelines for travel and a growing population of vaccinated adults including the vaccination of our district employees,” Auger stated. “ We are hopeful that these improving conditions will ultimately mean a return to more normal conditions by September and possibly during the period following April break if conditions continue to improve. However, there is still reason for caution.”
Cedor argued that they are fearful that it could lead to a surge in cases if they return to school immediately after break because of people possibly traveling.
“My self personally and other students would hate to see a breakout and we lose graduation and prom again,” Cedor said.
He explained that since they have already waited so long to have school in-person full-time that they can wait an extra week.
“I think we can wait one week to secure our graduation and prom,” Cedor said.
Auger explained that he hears the concerns of people in the community, many of which are concerns they discuss as a leadership team.
“We’re right there with you. As soon as we know more we will communicate and inform you,” he said.
North Kingstown School Committee Chair Gregory Blasbalg echoed what Auger said, explaining that the school committee hears all sides from parents and others involved in the District.
“We get both sides. We hear it all,” Blasbalg said.
With that said, Auger said that they will continue to follow the Department of Health guidance and recommendations when making their decisions.
“I want to let you know that won’t change,” Auger said.
Blasbalg said that they are going to wait for the playbook from the Department of Health and hopes that it moves them in the right direction.
“We’re looking to see what the playbook tells us and hopefully that moves us forward,” said Blasbalg.
The next North Kingstown School Committee meeting is slated for April 13 at 7 p.m.