School Start Date in Question; Unions Push Back

by | Aug 11, 2020

And EGSD says distance learning will look different than it was last spring

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Gov. Gina Raimondo is expected to delay the start of the 2020-21 school year by two weeks, with a new start date of Monday, Sept. 14, at her weekly COVID-19 press conference Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the state’s two main teachers unions sent a letter to the governor demanding implementation of full distance learning when school resumes in September. 

Against this backdrop, the East Greenwich School District plods forward, preparing for the various possible scenarios required by the state Department of Education – from full in-person to full distance learning. 

Asst. Supt. Michael Podraza told the School Committee Tuesday night distance learning would look different than it did in the spring, when it was foisted upon the state after the danger of COVID-19 became clear to state officials in early March.

The main takeaways from Podraza’s presentation – and he noted the district had only just heard about the very probable delayed school start that afternoon – were that distance learning would be much more synchronous in 2020-21. Also, he said, for families who opt for distance learning, if there is in-person learning and the family changed their mind, they would have to wait until the semester break to return their student to the classroom.

He added the split for secondary students who could be two days in school and two days distance learning at home, would be A through K-L and K-L through Z, with tweaks. 

Full in-person instruction on the elementary level is looking at Monday through Friday at school. According to Podraza, space remains a concern but there are variables (such as how many families might opt for full distance learning, thus lowering the number of in-person students). 

What Podraza emphasized was the district was “headed toward a full remote” according to virus trends. “We need to make sure people are prepared for that.”

Many of the unanswered questions will remained unanswered until the state announces what districts can do. However, School Committeewoman Anne Musella asked Supt. Meyer if the district could do what it thought was in the best interest of students and staff even if it ran counter to state dictates. 

Meyer said that remained unclear. 

The School Committee will meet again Friday morning at 7:30. On that abbreviated agenda, approval of a out-of-district cleaning contract and approval of COVID-19 related purchases (many of which are potentially reimbursable by FEMA). Find that agenda HERE. You can watch last night’s meeting HERE.

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