Reopening Strong: A Message From Superintendent Harrison Peters
Dear Providence Public School Families,
Providence Public Schools will start the school year on Sept. 14, 2020, by following a partial reopening scenario that offers in-person learning for students from prekindergarten to 5th grade and a combination of in-person and distance learning for students in grades 6-12.
This announcement does not impact the approximately 6,500 students who chose to enroll in the Providence Virtual Learning Academy, which will follow a 100% remote learning model through January.
While we understand that many of you were hoping for a full in-person reopening, please know we at the district support the decision for a partial reopening, which was based on the latest science and data. The most recent weekly data show that City of Providence had 100 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents. In Rhode Island, for a school district to open fully in person, a city or town must be less than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents.
Please be assured that we are following the latest health and safety guidance at the state and national level in order to create the best environment possible for a return to school. We have contracted for an additional 60 custodial staff to support our increased cleaning and sanitation efforts. We are improving ventilation and air flow in all our buildings prior to the start of school. And, we are requiring all families and staff to attest to being symptom-free before getting on a school bus or entering one of our buildings. Thank you for working with us as we anticipate a rigorous and rewarding school year.
For Providence elementary school students, in-person learning means students will remain with the same, stable group of classmates through most of the day. Classrooms will be organized so that all seats are forward facing and are spaced according to social distancing guidance. While all students and staff will be required to wear cloth face masks (unless they have health conditions for which mask wearing in contraindicated), teachers will schedule safe, mask-wearing breaks during the day for the students who need them.
In order to help our youngest learners adjust to new habits that protect their health, we have decided to stagger the in-person reopening dates for elementary students:
- Students enrolled in prekindergarten, kindergarten and first grade will begin in-person learning on Monday, Sept. 14.
- Students enrolled in second and third grades will return to in-person learning on Thursday, Sept. 17. For these elementary students, Sept. 14, 15 and 16 will be distance learning days.
- Students enrolled in fourth and fifth grades will return to in-person learning on Monday, Sept. 21. For these elementary students, Sept. 14-18 will be a week of distance learning.
By Oct. 13, all students in grades 6-12 will follow an alternating schedule, with one day of in-person learning followed by one day of distance learning. Alternating schedules allow secondary schools to reduce their capacity by 50%--one of several measures the district is taking to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
To enact these schedules, students will be assigned to either Group A or Group B. Group A will report to school on the days that Group B will follow distance learning, and Group B will report to school on the days that Group A will follow distance learning. For example, on one day, Group A may attend school in person and Group B will attend remotely. On the next day, Group B will attend school in person and Group A will attend remotely. This pattern continues for a a two-week period and then repeats so that over a two-week period, each group will have attended in-person school for five days and distance learning for five days.
Providence Public Schools have decided to phase in this alternating schedule, beginning with students in transition grades 6 and 9.
- Students in grades 6 and 9 will begin an alternating schedule on the first day of school, Sept. 14.
- At this writing, grades 7 and 10 are scheduled to begin the school year with distance learning only and transition to an alternating schedule by Sept. 28.
- Also at this writing, grades 8, 11 and 12 will begin the school year with distance learning only and transition to an alternating schedule by Oct. 13.
The district will inform families of their A or B group assignments no later than close of business on Wednesday, Sept. 2. It is important to note that, to make the alternating schedule more manageable for families, the district will assign siblings to the same group, even if they attend different schools.
Most families who received loaner Chromebooks this spring will use those same Chromebooks for distance learning this fall. Newly registered students, as well as students who turned in their Chromebooks in the spring, will hear from their school shortly with plans for picking up technology prior to the start of classes. Families who do not currently have wifi or hot spots are urged to contact their child’s school as soon as possible to review options.
Certain special populations of 6th-12th graders, such as multilingual learners and students in self-contained special education programs, will be able to return to school either daily or on an alternative schedule, beginning Sept. 14.
Providence Virtual Learning Academy
Families enrolled in the Providence Virtual Learning Academy will be invited to information sessions next week to discuss scheduling, curriculum and the roles of learning coaches. The district will be contacting enrolled families about these sessions over the next two days. Students who are enrolled in the Providence Virtual Learning Academy and do not currently have Chromebooks should contact the school with which they were last affiliated to make arrangements for pick-up. For questions on the Providence Virtual Learning Academy, you may email (Elementary Schools: PVLAElementary@ppsd.org - Middle Schools: PVLAMiddle@ppsd.org - High Schools: PVLAHigh@ppsd.org) or call 401-458-4114 during business hours.
Strong communication between the district and its families is very important as we move forward during this unusual time. For several years, we have maintained the Skyward portal for families, so that they may view their children’s schedules, see their grades, read important messages and communicate directly with teachers. If you have not already done so, we urge you make use of Skyward, accessible at www.providenceschools.org/skyward. If you have forgotten your log-in information, please email email@example.com to retrieve your log-in and reset your password.
Later this week, the district will publishing an online parent guide that offers additional information about the reopening of schools. It will be available on our reopening website, reopenpvdschools.org. We will also distribute the document via the Skyward portal, email and text message and will be posting links to the guide on the district’s @Providenceschools Facebook and @pvdschools Twitter accounts.
Also, schools will be scheduling back-to-school virtual events between now and mid-September. Please be on the lookout for information from your child’s principal. Thank you for working with us as we launch a successful reopening of schools.