Providence high school students set to return to in-person learning without stable pods

Providence high school students will not be in stable groups for in-person learning, according to the district's proposed reopening plans. 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – In Providence Public School District’s proposed reopening plan, students in grades K-8 will remain in stable pods when returning to the classroom for in-person learning.

High school students will not be in stable groups, according to the plans.

The submitted reopening plan states:

“We will not maintain stable groups given the greater diversity of scheduling needs and course offerings at the high school level. Given that only 50% of our students will be on campus at a time, six feet of distance between students will be achievable in most instances.”

The lack of stable pods has some high school teachers worried.

“I would be interacting with potentially 100-140 students every two days at school,” said Maya Chavez, a civics teacher at Dr. George Alvarez High School. “I’m incredibly concerned that I’m going to come into a classroom as an asymptomatic carrier, pass COVID onto a student who may also be an asymptomatic carrier, who then is going to take that home to somebody who is potentially a much higher risk.”

Chavez came up with a suggestion for the district: keep the students in the same classroom all day with the same teacher.

“So, I teach civics– First period I would teach civics to those students in that room. Second period those students would do math, they would do that virtually. They would stay in the room with me– the math teacher could be just next door– but they’d be doing the virtual instruction and then I would be facilitating that. So, I’d be supporting multilingual learners, helping keep kids on task,” explained Chavez.

A spokesperson for the district responded to Chavez’s plan with the following statement:

“We appreciate innovate [sic] thinking, and we thank Ms. Chavez and other PPSD community members for sharing their ideas with us. In this case, we feel that Ms. Chavez’s thoughtful suggestion would be difficult to bring to scale.”

Chavez disagrees.

“It’s actually quite simple to create stable groups at the high school level,” she said.

The spokesperson for the district also said having a reduced number of students in the classroom who are social distancing, coupled with increased cleaning and mask wearing, will reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in a high school setting.

Categories: Back to School, Coronavirus, News, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island