PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island-based plastics company is donating 20,000 face shields to the Providence public schools.
The shields from East Providence-based igus Inc. can be used to protect staff who work closely with students, particularly nurses who interact with symptomatic students, and will allow students with hearing loss to read lips, Superintendent Harrison Peters said in a statement Thursday.
“We are so grateful to our friends at igus for donating enough personal protective equipment to support all our school-based staff as well as many students with unique needs,” Peters said.
Many company employees have children in the Providence schools, igus North America Vice President Rick Abbate said.
“As business leaders and parents, we are thrilled to be able to donate igus face shields directly to the schools in an effort to provide additional protection against the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
Rhode Island health officials are reporting 108 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and three new coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday.
The cases were out of nearly 8,600 test results returned the previous day, according to the state Department of Health, a positivity rate of about 1.3%.
The 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Rhode Island fell over the past two weeks, going from 2.35% on Aug. 12 to 1.47% on Wednesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
There were 82 patients with COVID-19 in Rhode Island hospitals as of Tuesday, the most recent date for which the information was available, and of those, 10 were in intensive care, the state said.
There have now been almost 21,600 confirmed cases of the disease in the state and 1,044 deaths.
The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Rhode Island has risen slightly over the past two weeks from 92.57 on Aug. 12 to 94.14 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins.
Rhode Island education officials are pledging to work with a group of eight superintendents who say they are prepared for remote-only learning when schools reopen next month because they may not be ready to safely open their schools for in-person learning.
“Our top priority is bringing back students and staff in an environment that is safe, inviting, and nurturing for all," the superintendents wrote to the administration of Gov. Gina Raimondo. “However, it has become clear over the last number of weeks that we may not be able to open schools in a way that keeps all our students, families, staff, and community members safe.”
The letter was signed by the superintendents of Coventry, Cranston, Johnston, Lincoln, Pawtucket, West Warwick, Warwick and Woonsocket.
The Rhode Island Department of Education said it would work with the districts as it has throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will continue to work closely with and be responsive to our school leaders, in accordance with the latest public health guidance and our metrics, as we work to get as many students learning in person this fall as is safely possible," the department said in a statement.
Students are scheduled to return to the classroom on Sept. 14.