Schools plug into virtual learning

Schools plug into virtual learning

District, Durham to split busing bill amid school closures

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Instead of walking into their classrooms on Monday morning, students in North Providence and across the state turned on their computers to begin virtual learning.

Amid the new coronavirus outbreak, students in grades K-12 will attend school online until at least April 3.

"We know that distance learning is new for everyone, and there will be many challenges ahead," said Supt. Joseph Goho. "During this time of crisis, we also know that many in our community are faced with stressful issues that go far beyond education. NPSD understands the need to be flexible, and we are fully prepared to support all families to ensure success."

The district set up a system to provide access to Chromebooks if needed, and Goho said Cox Communications is offering 30 days of free internet through April (email connect@cox.com).

For the foreseeable future, educators will be available daily from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to provide support with assignments.

Goho said the plan approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education “addresses the academic, social emotional and nutritional needs of students, including special populations and multi-lingual learners.”

While the school buildings are closed to the public, lunch and breakfast (for the following day) will be served grab-and-go style for free for children under age 18. Free lunches will be distributed from 11:30 a.m. to 12:3 p.m. at Whelan and Centredale Elementary Schools, Ricci Middle School and North Providence High School (in the back parking lot).

Over the weekend, Goho announced that the district has come to an initial agreement with the district’s busing company, Durham School Services, which is not currently transporting students.

The district will pay half of its daily charges for transportation beginning this week for a period of time, in keeping with the terms of its contract with Durham and aprovision regarding “emergency situations.”

Goho said the amount “should be sufficient to prevent layoffs of bus drivers and monitors at this time, allowing Durham to continue to pay salary and benefits to their employees.”

He added, “The district deeply values the contributions of the men and women who safely transport our children, as well as the importance of keeping Durham’s work force intact so they can seamlessly resume services when schools reopen. We will continue to monitor the situation on a weekly basis and be guided by information from the federal and state government regarding efforts to support all workers through this crisis, while also remaining mindful of our fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers.”