MIDDLETOWN SCHOOLS REPORT STRONG OPENING
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (SEPTEMBER 21, 2020) – The opening of Middletown schools has gone well, so far.
According to a report tonight from educational leaders to the Town Council, there haven’t been any major hiccups.
From Day 1, Superintendent Rosemarie Kraeger said students and staff are required to wear masks, socially distance and perform other safe measures in the wake of COVID-19. She also said a priority has been placed on circulating air throughout every classroom at a rate of at least four times every hour.
“This is school like we’ve never had school before,” Kraeger said. “When you walk into our schools, you see arrows and safe zones…Safety is always No. 1 and that’s where we are.”
Amid the outbreak of COVID-19, school buildings across Rhode Island were closed in late March. About a week later, the schools returned for “distance learning,” where students finished out the 2019-2020 year through internet-based classes.
The opening of schools this month for the 2020-2021 year is operating on a “hybrid model.” Under this setup, students returned on a staggered basis so the buildings and buses weren’t as crowded.
“We’re teaching and learning in all different ways this year…” Assistant Superintendent Michelle Fonseca said. “Our biggest message is nothing is perfect.”
Going through a slideshow presentation, Kraeger and Fonseca emphasized several times that student and staff safety was at the fore of everything.
According to figures presented tonight, there were 1,967 students now enrolled in Middletown schools. Of those, 445 were classified as “distance learners,” those students who will not set foot in a school building to learn. That’s about 23 percent of the total student population.
Kraeger also said the schools had to spend in ways they never expected, such as building-based substitutes, cleaning supplies, technology, high-end air filters. In coming weeks, she said town and school staff would have to sit down and see where budget adjustments might be possible.
In response, council members applauded school leaders, teachers and staff for their hard work.
“I’ve received a number of complimentary calls about what’s going on in our schools…” council President Robert J. Sylvia said. “Kudos to all of you and keep up the good work.”
“I want to really thank the schools and the School Committee for their hard work…” added
Councilman Dennis Turano, who suggested tutoring for students who were struggling with distance learning. “We can all see how much work has been going into this rollout.”