opinion Newport Rhode Island

As in all schools, protecting the health and safety of students, their families, teachers and staff has been our number one goal throughout the pandemic at every Rhode Island charter school. It is in this spirit of safety and health that the charter community adds our voice to the public discussion of masking, and other steps that have been taken to effectively reduce the risks of COVID in our schools.

In recent days, as the severity of the omicron wave has declined, there has been a growing hope that public health measures, including masking, can be eased. We understand this trend – the impact of omicron is in fact easing and people have become increasingly inclined to let their guard down. However, as our political leaders weigh their next steps, we would strongly urge them to be guided by science and sound public health policy in making their decisions. In this instance, both those interests are served by the establishment over the February school vacation of clear, concrete metrics that guide when and how public health measures can be eased. These same metrics will also be useful in determining when to re-introduce safety measures during any future resurgence of COVID.

As we have repeatedly learned over the past two years, decisions about public health based solely on a date on the calendar are not effective, nor based on science. Conversely, some of the criteria that are valid in determining a metric to guide sound decision making are hospitalizations, vaccination rates, booster rates and infection rates, among others. Before deciding how to proceed, we would urge decision makers to establish and announce clear, straightforward criteria to guide decision making.

Our students are taught to make sound decisions based on a mature, thoughtful assessment of the information at hand. We caution them against relying too much on information that is ambiguous, misleading or cannot be confirmed. We look forward to being able to show them in the coming days how the public decision-making process about how best to protect the community from COVID followed the same approach.

About the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools

The mission of the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools is to advocate for its members by supporting charter public schools as leaders in expanding choice and supporting and informing the public school reform movement across the state of Rhode Island. The League represents 20 charter public school serving over 4,600 students from 34 school districts. Charter public schools provide a variety of learning opportunities, including different focus areas, diverse school communities and unique missions. 

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