It is hard to believe we are already in week 5 of distance learning, and I continue to be in awe of the incredible work of our entire community as we make the best of our circumstances during this unprecedented time. Thank you!
I have been waiting on a new announcement from our Governor on the status of schools for the remainder of this school year. Yesterday, Massachusetts made the call to close all schools with a plan to reopen in 2020-2021 and Governor Raimondo stated that she would have an announcement "later this week." When a final decision is made, I will send out notification to staff and families.
In the meantime, I want to provide you with some updates and resources:
This document (https://5il.co/ffji) has a summary of available resources for students, families and staff who are experiencing any type of hardship. Feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression are becoming more and more common. So many people have lost their jobs and are experiencing financial hardship on top of all the added pressures of the pandemic. It is important to take care of yourself and each other. Please use this guide to connect yourself with available resources - both through our school district and through state agencies. Thank you to our clinical staff for putting this document together for us.
As you may be aware, the Rhode Island Department of Education has been particularly focused on increasing family participation, because parent voices are too often left out of the discussion when it comes to their child's education. This data can help us to make informed decisions on things like how and when to engage families, and policies surrounding student support, coursework selections, and career readiness. Each year, families are asked to offer their voice through the SurveyWorks questionnaire. The SurveyWorks window will remain open now through April 30, 2020, and we would love to have as much input as possible from our EWG community. SurveyWorks can be completed on a computer, tablet, or mobile device, and below please find simple, step-by-step directions for filling out the survey:
5 Easy Steps to Complete Your Family Survey
Step 1: Visit surveys.panoramaed.com/ride
Step 2: Enter your school’s unique access code. This will be a school identifying code, followed by the word “family” (all lower case). For example: 12345family
Lineham code: 97102
Wawaloam code: 97101
Metcalf code: 97103
JHS code: 97105
SHS code: 97106
Step 3: On the Welcome page, your school’s survey will be displayed. Click “Start Surveys”
Step 4: You have now accessed the family survey. In the top left hand corner, there is a drop down menu. Select English or Spanish or Portuguese.
Step 5: For each question, select the answers that best apply to your experience and beliefs. Once finished, click “Submit,” and you are done!
Tonight, we will be hosting a virtual parent forum for our class of 2020 families. The goal is to share as much information as possible and listen to questions, concerns and recommendations so that as we move forward, decisions can be made with all perspectives in mind. While the official decision of the Governor has not been communicated publicly, we are operating under the assumption that we will not be able to return to school for the remainder of the year, we will not be able to hold proms, and we will need to rethink graduation ceremonies so that they comply with the Governor's Executive Orders and the recommendations of the RI Department of Health. We WILL figure out how to properly celebrate the accomplishments of our amazing class of 2020 with input from our staff, our students, and our families.
Please stay safe and healthy. I think about you all every day.
Thank you to Stacey Place for creating this amazing video based on student, family and staff submissions (and some additional photo-editing). Hopefully this will bring you some sunshine on a very dreary day. Click on the link below and enjoy!
Please find my summary of the distance learning survey that was taken at the conclusion of week 1 at this web address: https://5il.co/eqyj
This summary was shared with all staff as a way to highlight the major commendations, recommendations and suggestions that we gathered from your valuable input. I know that schools are looking at these results with the aim of continuing to get better and addressing family needs/barriers.
Your opinions matter to us. I hope you will continue to provide feedback as we navigate this unfamiliar process.
Dear EWG Community Members -
We know these are challenging times for all members of our EWG community. We are proud of the way students, parents, teachers, support staff and administrators have all responded to the challenges head on. Seeing the sense of community our school district brings is heartwarming for all involved. Even when the going has gotten tough, we have pulled together and have proven that we are EWG Strong.
To show our commitment to each other and pride in our community, we are asking for families, faculty and staff to send in pictures of yourselves featuring the hashtag #EWGSTRONG. You can make a sign to hold, digitally add the hashtag or maybe even something more creative! Have fun with this!! All of the photos will be compiled into a video. Though we can’t all be together, we know EWG is one in spirit. Please email your photos by April 9th to email@example.com.
We plan to add #EWGSTRONG to all building sign marquis so you see that message at every school, we are in this together.
Enjoy the weekend. It is well-deserved!
Now that we have official information from the Governor on the extension of distance learning, we are asking parents to complete this brief survey to gather input on our process. This will be an easy way for our families to help us understand what is going well and what ideas they have for improvement.
We appreciate all the communication that we have received from families since we started our distance learning experience last week. This survey is one additional way for us to keep the lines of communication open so we can best support each other.
Today, the Governor and Commissioner of Education provided the following updates regarding public schools:
• All public schools will continue distance learning until the end of April, at which point the situation will be re-evaluated to determine if it is necessary to extend beyond that date.
• All public schools will be asked to adopt a state-wide calendar that includes professional development/planning days on April 3rd and April 17th, as well as a long weekend with April 9th and April 10th as days off. The 3rd, 9th and 17th will count as school days toward the 180-day school year.
• Although we are in a very good place at this time, the Governor announced some additional state-wide support for helping families to access the internet from their homes. Please reach out to Jeremy Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any connection or device issues.
• The Governor announced the April reading challenge, asking all children to read every day for the entire month of April. Resources will be available on the RIDE website, including a place for families to complete a reading log and to upload pictures and videos that may be used to publicize and highlight the progress of our RI students.
• On Thursday, the Governor, along with Commissioner Infante-Green and RIDOH Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott will be holding a special press conference for students. Attached, please find an informational sheet with resources and directions for students who want to send questions in advance of the event. The Governor has asked that teachers spread the word about the event, use the resources as a teaching tool where applicable, and encourage students to be involved. It would be very cool to hear one or more of our students' questions addressed later this week. More information can be found by following this link: https://5il.co/edkj
• RIDE has formally applied for a Federal waiver to all State testing for the 2019-20 school year. All indications are that the waiver will be approved by the USDOE.
• Any children who are experiencing significant anxiety or excessive anger during these challenging times need our support. Kids' Link has established a 24-hour social-emotional-mental health hotline for families in crisis: 1-855-543-5465. Please share this resource as needed. More information can be found by accessing the following link: https://www.lifespan.org/
A number of our families, including our own staff, are experiencing hardship as a result of the crisis we face. Parents have lost jobs, they have relatives under stay-at-home orders or in nursing homes that they cannot visit, and many have relatives or friends who have tested positive for the virus. Many of our children are anxious and confused. In this time of tremendous hardship, our priority is to make distance learning a positive experience for all. We are committed to being responsive, flexible, understanding and caring. With all that our community is facing, we want you to know that we are here for you as partners and we will do whatever we can to help you and your children make the best of this extremely difficult situation.
A reminder that we have a breakfast/lunch program underway for any of our EWG families in need. We are able to provide a grab and go service at Metcalf Elementary School , Monday through Friday, from 8-10AM. We also have door-to-door delivery service available. Please reach out to Bob Ross if you would like to be added to our list (email@example.com).
Now that we have official information from the Governor on the extension of distance learning, we are going to send out a brief parent survey to gather input on our process. This will be an easy way for our families to help us understand what is going well and what ideas they have for improvement. I appreciate all the communication that we have received from families since we started our distance learning experience last week. The soon-to-be-released survey is one additional way for us to keep the lines of communication open so we can best support each other.
On behalf of the entire EWG staff, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for all that you are doing at home to help us effectively deliver the best educational experience possible to your children. I realize that this is a tremendous sacrifice, but your support assures me that we can do this!
I am so proud of the way our community has come together during these challenging times. Please reach out any time with questions or concerns.
Tomorrow we will begin implementing our distance learning plan. The entire staff of EWG has worked really hard to put together meaningful and reasonable learning experiences for all of your children. Teachers have already begun to share plans and reach out to families. Additional information will be sent out tomorrow, and regularly thereafter.
Please know, we understand that these are trying times for all of you (and us). Distance learning is uncharted territory for everyone involved. While we have done our absolute best to prepare for everything, we expect that there will be bumps in the road. Hang in there! We want everyone to try their best, and most importantly we want to ensure that lines of communication are consistently open. If there are any issues at all, please reach out. All EWG staff have a plan for ongoing and consistent communication with families. We are here for you, and we are going to work with you to ensure that our children are successful.
Please.... stay calm. No problem is too big for us to resolve together. This is the same message I have shared with our staff. Communicate often, and help us by conveying confidence and positivity with your children... even if you feel frustrated in the moment. We will help you through any anxiety or frustration you may feel.
A few additional reminders:
I am proud of the way our EWG community has come together during these difficult times, and on behalf of the schools, we appreciate your ongoing support.
No worries - we will get through this together.
The Governor of RI made the announcement today at her daily press conference that schools will remain closed for an additional 2 weeks (3/23/20-4/3/20), and that all public schools will implement their distance learning plans during that time. These days will be regular school days, and will count toward our 180-day requirement. When asked about schooling beyond that timeframe, the Governor indicated that it is "unlikely" students will be able to return, but decisions would be made based on the success of distance learning and the status of the state/national crisis.
Please be on the lookout for additional information from your school administrators and classroom teachers now that the Governor has made her official announcement.
I am also including some additional information and resources:
Free mental health consultation/services: www.bhlink.org, or call the 24-hour hotline at 401-414-LINK
Please remember that our situation is serious, and the aggressive steps taken by RI officials are designed to limit spread of the virus, particularly to the most vulnerable populations. It is critical that we all follow the advice of our experts.
Students, the next two weeks (minimally) are school days. It is important that you do your part to show every other state in the union that this is possible. Communicate with your teachers, try your best, and help us to do better in addressing your needs.
Again, I know this presents many challenges for all of us. We are committed to working with you and supporting your family through this crisis.
I am writing at this time to provide updates on our current situation. As you know, all schools in RI are closed based on the Governor's order from last Friday. Although we have been following the situation closely and we all understood the seriousness of what is happening across the globe, Friday's announcement came as a surprise to all of us. This week we are officially on Spring break, meaning that the week previously scheduled as our April vacation is now considered a normal school week.
If you have been following the daily updates from RI officials, you know that a decision on RI schools is expected tomorrow. In the meantime, all districts have been asked to finalize and submit a distance learning plan to RIDE so that we are prepared to deliver instruction to our children remotely in the event of an extended closing. Although my words are not an official statement, I am expecting the Governor to announce that schools will remain closed beyond this week and we will be required to implement our distance learning plans.
I am well aware of the difficulty that we are all facing trying to manage changes to our routines that we probably never dreamed were possible. The situation we are facing is serious, and it appears that we are in it for an extended period of time. Exeter-West Greenwich schools are committed to working with all of our families and children to do our part to help you through this difficult time.
Our district has completed our distance learning plan, which has already been submitted to RIDE and shared with all administrators and teachers. Our incredible staff - all of them - have been working to support each other, sharing lesson ideas and resources, and expanding their own knowledge of technology tools to best support remote learning for children at all grade levels, where appropriate. In the event the announcement from the Governor confirms an extended closing, we will be ready to go. This will be a new and unfamiliar road ahead for all of us, teachers and staff included, so there may be bumps in the road. Through open communication and collaborative problem solving, we will figure this out together.
Pending the formal announcement tomorrow, schools are prepared to share specific details with families and students about expectations, directions for accessing assignments and receiving teacher support, and any other details that they need to share. Here are a few additional important announcements that all should be aware of:
I will continue to communicate new information as it becomes available. If in fact tomorrow's announcement is what I expect it to be, you will begin hearing from your child's school/teachers with additional details.
Again, I want to thank the EWG teachers, administrators and staff for all they continue to do - during their "vacation" - to prepare for the upcoming week(s). They have been incredible, and have served as a model for what community truly means. I am proud to be a part of their team.
Below, please find some information and additional resources shared by one of our school nurse teachers.
The West Greenwich Fire Department, located at 830 Nooseneck Hill Rd, West Greenwich (just up the street from the JSHS and almost across the street from Lineham School), has prepared lunches for EWG families for this first week of school closing.
Families may stop by to pick up FREE meals for their children between the hours of 8 AM and 10 AM daily. Please, take advantage of this very generous offer from one of our community partners.
Today, I met with a team from the RI Department of Education and also participated in a weekly conference call with the RI Department of Health to receive updates on new and recurring recommendations for schools related to COVID-19. I have also been in contact with local EMA Directors, watched the 4:00 press conference/briefing from RIDOH, and read through all new guidance posted on the RIDOH website. As promised, I am sending along a summary of all relevant information.
At this point, RI does not have evidence of community spread of the virus. Any actions by the Department of Health, the Department of Education, and the Governor's office have been taken to help prevent and contain the spread of the virus.
Universal precautions (hand washing, proper etiquette when sneezing or coughing, cleaning/sanitizing of high-touch areas, and remaining at home if flu-like symptoms exist) remain a top priority. Our maintenance/custodial staff and bus company have and will continue to do an exceptional job keeping up with this important requirement.
Families who have traveled should report that information to your school administrator before returning to school, particularly if travel has been to any of the countries identified by the CDC as a risk zone. Any individual who has traveled and develops flu-like symptoms must contact their primary care physician, disclose travel history, and report any symptoms before going to the doctor's office. School administrators have been conferring with my office on all families who have traveled to ensure that we are taking all necessary precautionary steps to ensure everyone's safety.
School closures have been limited to those buildings that have confirmed cases of COVID-19, or where there has been contact with individuals who have been exposed to the virus. RIDOH has indicated that there is "no intention" to implement mass school closings as a preventative measure at this time. School closures will be handled on a case by case basis, as needed, and in cooperation with local officials, RIDOH and RIDE.
School districts have been encouraged to develop and submit to RIDE plans for virtual/at-home learning in the event that school closure becomes a necessity. EWG has a plan that will be submitted to the Department of Education for review by Friday (3/13/2020). Information will be shared with all staff, and then families, on this plan so that we are ready to implement an off-campus learning environment in the event it becomes necessary. Note - this is a preparation step only, not a necessary action at this time.
Elementary families will be surveyed to determine whether students have access to the internet and a computer at home. Part of our plan, should it need to be implemented, includes device loaning from the school as necessary. Please help us by responding to this survey in a timely manner (1 minute of your time!)
New guidance on large gatherings:
Schools are not to schedule events that will draw crowds of 250 or more. Community members have been advised not to attend events that will draw crowds of 250 or more. "This recommendation is specific to organized events at which people will be concentrated for sustained periods of time, such as parties, sporting events, and parades."
"This recommendation (above) does not pertain to the normal school day for students and to workplaces, as long as 250 or more people are not closely concentrated (within 6 feet of each other) for sustained periods of time."
For smaller events, attendees are advised to follow universal precautions (maintain physical distance as much as possible (6 feet), hand washing, sanitizing high touch areas, remain home if flu-like symptoms exist).
Avoid scheduling events that will draw large numbers of older adults. The Center for Disease Control recommends cancelling any events that will draw 10 or more people from high-risk populations (including older adults).
Exeter-West Greenwich actions on light of these new recommendations:
Any event that will draw large crowds of 250 people or more is/will be cancelled.
Smaller events designed for the public will be reviewed on a case by case basis, and will be cancelled if there is a reasonable alternative to requiring in-person attendance or if the event is determined not to be necessary to achieve the major goals of our school community.
In the event that smaller events remain scheduled, we will encourage universal precautions, including social distancing (6 feet apart), good hygiene, and remaining home if symptoms exist.
All student gatherings and/or assemblies during school shall be limited to one grade at a time, maximum. This will ensure that we will never have more than approximately 125 students together at a time.
Sporting events will be monitored for crowd size. We will address spring sports, many of which are held outside, in the next couple of weeks.
Field trips where large numbers of people will gather will be canceled or postponed.
Continue to check the CDC website for updated guidance. The RIDOH has been providing constant communication and guidance to schools and is available to us for any questions we have. If anyone has a question, please call the RIDOH (401-222-8022) or visit their website: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/
Please contact your school administrator, or my office, with any questions. Also, look for additional updates as they become necessary based on updated guidance from RIDOH, RIDE and/or the Governor's office.
Thank you for your continued support,
Here is a bulleted list of updated information from the last briefing with the Department of Health relative to the Coronavirus (COVID-19):
All confirmed cases of COVID-19 can be traced back to a school trip from St. Rafael's Academy in late February. One case that was being monitored resulted in the closing of Achievement First Academy in Providence. The results of testing for that individual came back negative and Achievement First has since been re-opened.
Testing for the case that resulted in the early closing of a school in East Greenwich was returned as negative.
The Department of Health remains directly involved with any individuals who continue to be monitored.
Rhode Island has not experienced community spreading of the virus.
Any decisions to close schools, in the event it may be needed, must be done in consultation with the RI Department of Health.
A hotline has been established at the RI Department of Health for the general public to address questions or concerns: 401-222-8022
All are encouraged to continue to adhere to best practices (Universal Precautions) to prevent the spread of germs.
Student athletes, particularly those involved in sports with close physical contact, must take additional precautionary steps to avoid the spread of germs: No sharing of water bottles, no sharing of towels, avoid physical contact when not necessary (such as shaking hands at the end of a game), and avoid practices or games when sick. There shall be no penalties for athletes who remain out of practice of game play to adhere to this RIDOH guidance.
If any individual is experiencing symptoms, contact your Health Care Provider first before going directly to the office. Health Care Providers are also working directly with the Ri Department of Health.
Do not go to your Health Care Provider simply to get an absence note. Communicate the reason for absence directly to school personnel/supervisors. Only in specific cases will a doctor's note be required (For example, those who are chronically absent or those who are involved in truancy courts).
The RI situation continues to evolve, and I will convey any new information as it becomes available.
Here is the most current information provided to us by the RI Department of Health (RIDOH) and the RI Department of Education (RIDE) related to the COVID-19 virus. Much of the information contained in this briefing only reiterates what I have previously communicated through my office.
In addition, I have a bit more information to share:
At this point in time, we have no cause for alarm in Exeter-West Greenwich. We are following all recommended protocols consistent with the attached communication from RIDOH and RIDE. We will communicate directly with RIDOH and provide immediate information to families in the event that our circumstances change.
Superintendent of Schools