“I did not throw in the towel”: Superintendents fire back at Governor over going remote

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Superintendents and teachers from across the state are lashing out at the Governor’s comments during her weekly press conference where she slammed school districts for going remote.

“To those of you who are throwing in the towel on our kids and going virtual, I think it’s a shame. I really do. You’re letting the children down,” Governor Gina Raimondo said. “To the superintendents out there who went virtual, I want you to look yourself in the mirror and see if you can try a little harder. I think the kids deserve better.”

Several school leaders are now firing back on social media.

The Westerly School District has not gone virtual, but Superintendent Mark Garceau defended other district’s decisions. He tweeted:

Westerly High School Principal, Michael J. Hobin, also responded:

In addition, East Providence Superintendent Kathryn Crowley tweeted:

ABC 6 News spoke to Superintendent Crowley who made the call to go virtual just days ago.

“I did not throw in the towel,” Superintendent Crowley said. “We worked very hard up until this point to keep those children in school. I would say that I look myself in the mirror every day now and I feel that I have made the right decision.”

Superintendent Crowley says it was one of the hardest decisions she’s had to make and it didn’t come lightly.

“I stood here in amazement watching it in the office and I actually cried,” Superintendent Crowley said. “That’s how bad I felt because I knew that I worked and my staff, directors, assistant superintendents worked very hard to keep our children in school here. We really did.”

She says they’ve done everything in their power to stay open. They conducted their own contact tracing, installed air purifiers and hired their own set of permanent substitute teachers for all of their buildings.

“We tried. We tried very, very hard. We were moving permanent subs from one school to the other and we knew we were breaking up our pods then and then they became sick!”

She calls it a vicious circle and says it took a toll on the kids, parents and staff.

“I am continuing with this,” Superintendent Crowley said. “I know she asked us to revisit it, I have no intention of revisiting it. I think we have made the right decision.”

The East Providence School District is set to return in-person on January 4th, though the Superintendent says that may need to be extended depending on how the numbers look following the holidays.

Governor Gina Raimondo did say in the press conference she knows it’s not easy for teachers and staff and commended them for all their hard work. She said every day a child is out of school sets them back and she’s worried for the lifetime of problems they’ll face.

ABC 6 News reached out to her office for further comment. We are waiting to hear back.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island