North Kingstown School Committee votes against full distance learning and elementary school closure
NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WLNE) – The North Kingstown School Committee held a rare Saturday Zoom meeting with more than 500 people in attendance.
It comes on the heels of controversial plan to temporarily close Forest Park Elementary that sparked protests this week.
Some say they felt blindsided.
“We have a wonderful, engaged community,” said parent Jamie Orsi. “An informed community is a good one. So if we could keep the information coming.”
Now Superintendent Dr. Philip Auger says he is pulling that from his proposal.
“I just want to take the edge off everything, and let you know that my proposal will not include moving students from Forest Park,” he said. “So I know a lot of people tuned in with those concerns.”
Parents like Anna Conti said they’re relieved.
“I was originally here on behalf of my two students who attend Forest Park, so I really appreciate the school committee and Dr. Auger listening to our emails and all of our concerns about our kids being moved,” she said.
The school committee supported Dr. Auger’s plan, which at the high school level is not full in-person, but includes alternating days of in-person and at-home learning.
The committee also considered a proposal to move to full distance learning for the entire district.
Some were concerned about the level of potential exposure to the adult staff in school buildings.
“Teacher contact for risk and exposure is between 56 and 84 contacts a day,” said School Committee Member Jacob Mather.
But a survey of North Kingstown parents found about 80% support a plan with at least some in-person learning.
“I would encourage us to choose plans that will allow us to go back to normal, because that is where we’re headed given the data,” said parent Kimberly Lanowy.
The majority of the committee ultimately voted not to have all students start with distance learning.
The district is still planning to offer the option of a distance learning academy for parents who do not want their children attending school in-person.
The deadline to sign up for that is Monday.
Also on Monday, Governor Raimondo is expected to provide her decision on school reopening plans in 1:00 p.m briefing.