Schools share potential plans for fall

Schools share potential plans for fall

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The North Providence School Department submitted a four-pronged plan to the Rhode Island Department of Education last week outlining potential scenarios for the fall: full in-person learning, full distance learning, limited in-person and partial in-person learning.

Unlike several Rhode Island districts, North Providence has not declared which plan it would prefer to implement, instead waiting on the state to decide.

Supt. Joseph Goho, pictured, said the district would like to see “as many students in school as possible” based on Gov. Gina Raimondo’s goal to reopen schools in the fall.

Under the plan for a full in-person reopening, students would return to school in a full-time capacity under new safety precautions. Masks would be required for teachers and recommended for students.

The partial in-person plan provides a hybrid model, with roughly half of the student population attending the school buildings at any given time. The student body would be divided based on last name, with the first half of the alphabet attending school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (and the rest learning virtually) and the second half on Thursdays and Fridays.

Under that plan, Mondays would be virtual learning days for all students.

Goho said dividing the district alphabetically would help ensure siblings attend school on the same days.

If the governor decides to implement the partial plan, only 25 percent of North Providence students would attend school in-person. Goho said in-person classes would be reserved for pre-kindergarten through grade 2, grade six at the middle school and grades 11 and 12 at the high school.

In each scenario, Goho said the district has prioritized high-need populations. Each plan includes additional social emotional supports.

Any scenario with in-person teaching and learning would require extra precautions including increased sanitation and social distancing measures.

Breakfast and lunch would be grab-and-go style, with most meals eaten in the classroom.

Wherever possible, students groups would be unchanging pods to limit the potential spread of the virus. Transportation will be significantly altered, with bus capacity dropping from 70 students to about 23, or one student per seat. Schedule changes are expected with any in-person learning to minimize congestion in the halls.

Parents in the district are split on which option they prefer for their families.

Goho said a recent survey of parents, which received more than 900 responses in two days, revealed that 43 percent of parents would prefer full distance learning, while 57 percent would choose to send their child to school. The survey is open until the end of the week.

During last Wednesday’s School Committee meeting, North Providence parent Lynn Fontaine made an impassioned plea to the committee to opt for a full in-person reopening. Fontaine said virtual learning is a short-term solution that does not work over time.

“As the weeks went on, virtual learning became very difficult for my children and many others,” she said. “Students became frustrated and began to disconnect. Their mental state began to suffer. It was not learning.”

Fontaine said students would experience learning gaps, especially along racial and socioeconomic lines, if online education or a hybrid model is put in place this fall.

She asked that families be given a choice, deciding which option works best for them.

“I respect every family’s decision regarding COVID. It should be a parent’s choice,” she said, calling it a “win-win for everyone.”

Nearly every member of the School Committee vocalized their agreement for parents having a choice.

Arthur Corsini said the district he teaches in has done just that.

Roderick Da Silva, another longtime educator, said he would prefer to return to teaching in-person. “I’m hoping we can go back, but I understand there are factors beyond our control with COVID,” he said.

Goho said North Providence would wait for the governor and the Rhode Island Department of Health “to tell us which plan is in effect,” a decision he expects around Aug. 17.

School Committee Chairman Frank Pallotta said North Providence’s return the school will be a “fluid discussion that will continue right through the middle of August when RIDE makes its determination for the districts.

“There is no perfect solution to something that is very fluid and changes every day,” he said. “We do not have control of this virus and its path forward. We could have a plan in place today that may change tomorrow.”

Pallotta said the district would continue to acquire information and data to guide its plans.

“We want to make sure we don’t enable this virus. We want to mitigate this virus,” he said.

Comments

The Governor and school districts need to realize that most parents do not want to go back until there is a vaccine. Sure, some want to go back now. But, a majority do not want to risk it.

I do not think we should be going back to school full time. I believe what is best is a Hybrid start of school. There was a survey that went out this week asking what we the parents want. Like I said I want Hybrid but if you chose all virtual they wanted your name and your child’s name. This got me thinking are they going to let all parents who want virtual get virtual?!?
What about the parents who want all in person or Hybrid do we get what we want too?
If we do go all in person I will NOT have my child go in person 5 days a week.
Hybrid is a perfect solution for safety of the kids.
I’m work in an Elementary School and do not see how safely the kids can go back in person full time.
Hybrid all the way!