Public School ‘Distance Learning’ Starts Monday

by | Mar 18, 2020

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Gov. Gina Raimondo said Wednesday the school year for Rhode Island public school students would resume Monday and go to April 3 via a “distance learning” plan each school district is creating this week with help from the R.I. Dept. of Education. After the two weeks, officials would decide next steps, Raimondo said.

Rhode Island is among the only states attempting this, she said. “Many other states have just thrown in the towel. But I’m not yet willing to throw in the towel because I think some learning is better than no learning.” 

She acknowledged this will be “tough,” urging students to pitch in and parents to make a schedule and find a dedicated school work space at home.

In East Greenwich, the decision means creating virtual learning for 2,500 students. Each district was told last week to submit their distance learning plan to RIDE by Thursday (3/19). East Greenwich has submitted its plan. 

One immediate challenge is to make sure every student has access to a computer and the internet. The administration sent out a survey last week to nearly every family in the district (only four families do not have an email registered with the district and those families were reached by telephone) asking about their technology needs. 

Alexis Meyer, the director of teaching and learning (as well as the incoming superintendent), said Monday survey results showed about 40 students would need a device for home use. She said the district has 70 Chromebooks ready for distribution and they would arrange a pickup time this week. The district is also figuring out internet access for some families. 

Here’s the letter Meyer and Interim Supt. Frank Pallotta sent to parents Wednesday afternoon: EGSD Letter to Families 3/18/20.

Meanwhile, the box lunch program began Tuesday at Eldredge and Frenchtown schools and a total of 33 breakfast-and-lunch meals. On Wednesday, according to Aramark’s Michelle Edwards, the two sites handed out a total of 50 meals. The bag meals Wednesday contained cereal, milk, a cheese stick and fruit for breakfast, a turkey grinder, milk, baby carrots and a small “munchie mix” bag for lunch. Edwards and one other Aramark employee are preparing the meals. She said if demand increases, they could bring in one of the 15 other EG Aramark employees that were laid off when schools were closed.

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