Providence students back to school with new social, emotional resources

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The first day back at school in Providence, filled with new backpacks, shoes, and staff, happy to see smiling faces.

“And it was just great seeing everybody again especially without the masks,” Kerry Nardolillo, a special education resources teacher, said.

Staff, as well as students, were excited to get the new year started.

“All the students will be in school, hopefully every single day, we want to get almost perfect attendance,” special education resources teacher, Erika Cambio, said.

“It’s a great day and we’re doing everything in our power to make sure that we make up for any lost time,” Rhode Island Education Commissioner, Angélica Infante-Green said.

This new school year, coming with new goals, “What’s bringing joy to me today is the first day of school, not only the first day of school, it’s the returning back and making sure as we move forward that we’re doing everything possible for our students,” said Providence Superintendent Javier Montañez.

After a tough few years in the classroom, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the goal this year was the introduction of more social and emotional services.

“We’ve all been impacted by the pandemic and coming back to the school building gives them a sense of community and we’re prepared to meet them and meet their needs, not just academic, but their social and emotional needs,” Infante-Green added.

Social Workers, psychologists, and guidance counselors will be more available to students this year, something the Providence School District feels is necessary to offer.

“The kids are going to be able to really find that adult that’s helps them if they’re in a crisis or if they just need someone to talk to,” Cambio said.

“If my own children would’ve — could’ve benefitted from something like these programs that are coming into the program, it would’ve been amazing,” Nardolillo added.

The commissioner also told ABC 6 News that teachers in the district are also being trained to learn how to have deeper conversations with students.

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