Governor tours outdoor classes at Smithfield school

Governor Gina Raimondo talks with students during their outdoors time at the Raymond C. LaPerche Elementary School in Smithfield on September 24, 2020. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

Governor Gina Raimondo Thursday toured a Smithfield elementary school during outdoor classes and lunch under new safety guidelines in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the Raymond C. LaPerche Elementary School in Smithfield, students in grades K-5 take lunch and some classes outdoors during good weather, spread out across the spacious school grounds with tiny flags demarcating room for “pods” of about 20 youngsters.

“We were able to create 13 pods out here so the kids can come out for learning, they can come out for snack, for lunch, for recess. So you’ll see throughout the day different groups of students outside,” said Principal Julie Dorsey. She said there are about 240 students in the school.

Assessing the outdoor setup on a bright sunny day, Gov. Raimondo, a Smithfield native who attended another elementary school in the town, applauded the efforts.

“These might not be solutions, but that’s no excuse to not let these kids get into school in September, October, November, December. As a mother, every day that these kids aren’t in school makes a difference. You see it in your children’s emotional health, mental health, intellectual health,” Raimondo said.

“You know, I don’t think they’re going to be out here forever, but it’s an excellent solution for now, and that’s how we’re all going to get through this.”

Going from “pod” to “pod”, she stopped by a group of second grade students and asked whether they favored giving the green light to allowing Halloween trick-or-treating. Four out of five students agreed with the idea.

She got a wide range of replies when she asked the youngsters about their favorite candy, but most favored some kind of chocolate.