Distance Learning: One Principal’s Perspective

by | Mar 30, 2020

On Monday, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that distance learning (the virtual classroom) would continue through the month of April and possibly longer in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The huge transformation that has taken place across the state only started March 13, with the governor’s announcement she was closing schools and giving districts about a week to figure out this new way of teaching and learning. 

There remain kinks to be worked out, but EG schools are adopting new ways to handle this challenge. Find a link to a letter from Interim Supt. Frank Pallotta and incoming Supt. Alexis Meyer HERE. 

And here’s a note from Dan Seger, principal of Eldredge Elementary, on how things have gone there. EG News would love to hear from parents and students about how this new system is working for them – send an email to [email protected].

My first thought is regarding how extremely proud I am of the Eldredge community for the way folks have handled this surreal scenario. Our thoughts continue to be with all those who have been affected by this pandemic. When the news broke on March 13th about school closings and our future of Distance Learning,  it made a significant impact on many levels, especially on an emotional one. In the face of this news, the Eldredge faculty & staff began preparing immediately and accepted the circumstances as a call to action. We knew we needed to support our students, families – and one another – during arguably one of the most distressing periods of our collective lives.

Of course, the support has taken on different shapes, including an intense amount of technical support (EG Library Media Specialists have been amazing!). We have given much thought about the roll out of distance learning and what support could look like. For instance, we structured our Distance Learning to reflect a significant amount of asynchronous work for students. This means that students are able to complete their schoolwork at their own pace and on their own time. We know that families are under tremendous stress, and schedules vary from home to home. In the grand scheme of things, it might not seem like much, but it has been one way we have tried to support families.

At the same time, Eldredge families have been incredibly supportive. Countless people have reached out asking if and how they can get involved in helping the school and other families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. We’ve had families contribute to the Food Cupboard at St. Luke’s, for instance. Indeed, it is difficult to capture in words just how meaningful and appreciated these gestures have been. I send my sincere gratitude for the incredible outreach from families.

I would be remiss if I did not give a very special shout out to all Eldredge students for their support! Their positive contributions have kept our spirits high – especially preserving our morning Eldredge Eagle pledge announcements via video! Our teachers also post the pledge video daily on their Google Classroom streams, so students can begin their “school day” with a familiar ritual.

As one can imagine, transitioning from physical school to online school has presented an abundance of challenges. Reinventing how we’ve engaged in teaching, learning, and supporting students has not been easy by any measure. Nevertheless, I am encouraged by what we’ve accomplished thus far. While the in-person instructional experience cannot be replicated, we are hard at work planning for the best ways to honor that via online opportunities. Students may be at home, but there are still social, emotional, and academic needs that we’re trying to meet in a distance learning model. The district as a whole has been exceptional at working collaboratively through the challenges that have surfaced. Of course, there are still deep questions and issues that we continue to tackle.

The Governor announced earlier this afternoon that we can expect Distance Learning to be our new reality for the next month, at the very least. While I am eagerly anticipating our return to Eldredge (the 101 1st Avenue version), I am confident that we will make the most of this experience and will be better teachers and learners for it. I know many are learning in real time how best to leverage technology for a profound impact on student learning – from a distance, that is.

Mr. Seger, Principal
Eldredge Elementary School

If you have a story tell about distance learning or any aspect of the COVID-19 crisis, let us know! Send an email to [email protected] or call or text (401) 749-3115. Thanks, and we hope you remain safe.

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Bruce R. Mastracchio
Bruce R. Mastracchio
March 31, 2020 6:16 am

Congratulations to the young man in the video. In a time when many in this country, including some of our politicians, seem to have forgotten the principles that made this country great, it is heartwarming and inspiring to see a young student stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance and his school’s ( my old school also) personal pledge.

We are lucky to be in this country and should thank God every day that we are. To him and to all reading this Be Well. Be safe in these times.


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