By Mark Schwager
The rhythm of the seasons now brings us into the wonderful New England autumn. After a tumultuous spring, there has been some return to our usual lives. Many of us have enjoyed our favorite beaches, restaurants and socializing outdoors. COVID tests in Rhode Island have fallen below 1 percent positive for now, and the August job reports nationally and in R.I. show declines in unemployment. But science and common sense tell us that the pandemic will be with us for many months to come and new challenges are on the horizon.
School reopening will begin shortly and cooler weather will impact local restaurants as outdoor dining ends. The state’s budget, which determines crucial funds for East Greenwich educational and town services, is still in limbo and will likely contain significant cuts to our state aid.
Our School Committee, district superintendent and teachers are moving forward with a staggered school reopening based on the best available evidence-based recommendations from federal and state agencies. There have been several online meetings attended by hundreds of East Greenwich families to keep residents informed and involved.
On the town side, we have implemented a very tight budget to allow us the flexibility to respond to revenue shortfalls. We have delayed planned capital improvements, left several staff positions vacant, and protected our reserve funds.
It is difficult to run a municipal government with so much uncertainty. We will have to continually adapt and adjust our lives as new circumstances unfold. The priority of the Town Council remains doing whatever is within our power to protect the health, welfare and safety of our community until the COVID emergency ends.
East Greenwich is fortunate that our town has a tremendous spirit of resilience and community. In the coming months we will work together to recover from the medical, emotional and economic setbacks we have experienced. Thank you for the cooperation, patience and trust of our engaged community.
Mark Schwager, president, East Greenwich Town Council. The views expressed in this post are his and are not an official communication from the Town Council or Town of East Greenwich.