Union files suit to halt school return in Bristol Warren

Returning now will put teachers at risk, suit alleges

By Ted Hayes
Posted 9/11/20

With the start of school looming just three days away, the union that represents teachers in Bristol Warren filed an 11th hour suit in Rhode Island Superior Court Thursday afternoon, asking the court …

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Union files suit to halt school return in Bristol Warren

Returning now will put teachers at risk, suit alleges

Posted

With the start of school looming just three days away, the union that represents teachers in Bristol Warren filed an 11th hour suit in Rhode Island Superior Court Thursday afternoon, asking the court to stop in-person learning from starting Monday, Sept. 14.

The suit, filed by the National Education Association of Rhode Island, was expected to be heard at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Stephanie Mandeville, communications director of the state union.

According to reports, the suit alleges that buildings throughout the district have not been properly inspected by state and local officials to determine whether they are safe. It argues that those inspections need to be done, and all schools determined to meet safety guidelines, before school begins.

"The employees (will) suffer irreparable harm if they are forced to come to work," the suit reads, according to a WPRI report.

Neither union representation, Bristol Warren Regional School Committee Chairwoman Erin Schofield, nor Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Brice could be reached Friday morning.

The suit comes a day after the district scaled back its re-opening plans at the Colt Andrews Elementary School and Mt. Hope High School, both in Bristol, following a unanimous vote of the school committee.

Under the vote, Colt Andrews would open on Monday with no students in the building, but would return Monday, Sept. 21 for full in-person learning. The change came a week after a staff member there tested positive for the Covid-19 virus and as many as eight other staff members were ordered into 14 days of quarantine after coming into contact with that employee.

At Mt. Hope, where state student spacing and distancing benchmarks were not being met, the plan (as of Thursday's school committee vote) was to use the district's “limited” model. Students would all be home for “virtual” days on Mondays, and then 25 percent of the students would come to school every other day of the week. Thus, students who chose to attend classes in person would be in the classrooms one day per week and home three days per week.

This story is developing. Check back for updates as they become available.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.