Rhode Island educators, students and parents gather to discuss impact of pandemic on K-12 schools

Infante-Green said the state is working to address these issues in individual schools and districts across the state, not only in response to the pandemic, but also in the longer term. They offered financial incentives to bring more teachers to Rhode Island, offering student loan forgiveness and housing cost assistance. They have offered a free 10-hour course on social-emotional development to all educators in the state — and they also hope to share it with parents and families in the district.

City education officials also work with the PPSD Parent Advisory Council to better understand the needs of parents and families. Melissa Hughes, a mother of two college students and a four-year veteran of the Parent Advisory Council, said while parents’ perspectives are diverse, they tend to agree there is an urgent need to prioritize student mental health. and to support their social life and emotional development.

“Problems that may have already existed…have exploded into an even bigger problem,” Hughes said. “Even now that we’re in this new…’normal’, students still don’t have the flexibility to have casual social interactions in safe spaces, especially for many of our families in Providence who might not have… access to outdoor spaces or recreational opportunities.

Cynthia Torres, principal of Providence’s Reservoir Avenue Elementary School, said a recent grant from the Rhode Island Department of Education allowed her to hire a part-time guidance counselor to support students. But she also takes matters into her own hands, working with teachers to introduce comforting daily routines into students’ lives.

“At the beginning of the year, we worked hard to establish these routines, passing ownership to the students,” Torres said. “Now we may have a teacher who’s missing – it’s the kids saying, ‘We don’t do it that way. This is how we do it in our class. They’re empowered, they own some of these routines, they’re in charge. Routines give our students a sense of security.

With all of these measures in place, Torres, Infante-Green and others expressed hope for the future of schooling in Rhode Island. Dr. Elizabeth Goldberg, associate professor of emergency medicine at Brown, said she was optimistic that in four to six weeks Omicron infections would peak, students would begin to return to a more predictable schedule, and communities educational would begin to find a new, improved Regular.

“When other states struggled in certain areas, we came together as a community,” Infante-Green said. “As Rhode Islanders, we have moved forward in the best interest of our students and our families. Our state motto [“hope”] suits us well at the moment.

About Rachel Gooch

Check Also

The expansion of Preston Muslim Girl’s High School with an increase in student numbers

Pupils at Preston Muslim Girl’s High School (PMGHS) will see their teaching space expand as …