Distance learning is incredibly difficult. But here in Rhode Island, we're making it work--and we're doing it better than most other states. Statewide, we’ve seen more than 90% participation almost every single day of distance learning. Teachers, students, families, principals, superintendents and staff all deserve incredible praise for their efforts. This would not have been possible without their creativity, passion, dedication, and determination.
Today I want to let you all know that we've made the difficult--but necessary--decision to continue distance learning for the remainder of this school year. I’ve spoken over the past few weeks with superintendents, mayors, principals, teachers – and this is their consensus recommendation.
The reality is, we do not have enough data or evidence to inform a safe reopening of our school buildings. Doing so without the right health and safety measures is a risk I’m not willing to take. It's more important that we spend this time working to develop strong summer programs and the right strategies to re-open schools safely in September.
Like April, RIDE will issue a statewide calendar for May and June. This will allow us to ensure that every teacher has some time for lesson planning and professional development. We are not giving up on this last month and a half of learning.
For parents who need guidance on how to support their kids with distance learning, I am proud to announce that RIDE, working with the Highlander Institute, has expanded their distance learning helpline to support parents and families. Parents can access this service by calling the Helpline at 909-414-4927 or going online at highlanderinstitute.org.
I also want to remind everyone, particularly parents, about Kids Link. Kids Link is a 24/7 hotline that parents can call when their child is feeling excessive anger or sadness, lashing out at siblings, friends, and adults, having severe worries, or hurting himself/herself or others. The number is 1-855-543-5465.
Our students will understandably have a lot of questions about the decision to extend distance learning--and this crisis more broadly. Next Thursday, April 30th, at 1 p.m., I will hold another Kids' Press Conference to respond directly to our kids. Last time, we received more than 15,000 questions! I’ll answer some of those as well as new ones that students can submit online through this form.
To our families, let me be clear: this is not a ‘see you in September.’ When distance learning ends, we will have summer offerings available for students. These will probably look different from the traditional summer camps and other experiences our kids are used to – but we will not leave you with nothing. I’ll have more to say in the coming weeks about the re-opening of childcare and plans for the summer."
We're all in this together.
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