Parents and teachers in Providence upset over rollout of virtual learning program

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The first day of school was extremely rocky for students enrolled in Providence’s Virtual Learning Academy (VLA).

Students in Providence who opted for full distance learning were enrolled in the VLA. However, parents and teachers both say the virtual program does not look as they were promised.

“They said think of is at Summer School online,” said Crisha Garcia, whose daughter is enrolled in the VLA.

Garcia said her daughter does not have a teacher live teaching all of her classes.

“Now my daughter and her friends are worried that if they get stuck, there’s no one there to help them,” said Garcia.

She’s also worried because she just found out the VLA’s curriculum is not the same as the curriculum for in-person learning.

“To know that my child’s not going to get the same education that she did while she was in school– that’s a problem,” said Garcia.

Teachers also said they were misled about what the VLA would look like.

Contractually, elementary teachers can have up to 26 students in their classroom. However, the week before school started, they were told they would have double that number in the virtual classroom.

“52 students on a roster at elementary level, and upwards of 200 students on the secondary level. That is neither academically, pedagogically, or morally sound,” said Maribeth Calabro, President of the Providence Teachers Union.

Garcia said she thinks it’s unfair that the district did not tell parents this information before enrollment. She said it feels like the district is twisting her arm to make her want to send her daughter to in-person learning.

“I thought I was choosing the right decision,” said Garcia. “No parent should have to pick and choose between the health of my child or my child’s education.”

The Providence Teachers Union will hold a protest on Tuesday over the rollout of the VLA. It will happen at 4:30 p.m. outside the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Categories: Back to School, Coronavirus, News, Our Schools, Regional News, Rhode Island