Teachers in Providence unable to take attendance and keep contact tracing record

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The Providence Public School District has faced a difficult return to school, after three students and two staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.

Teachers like Maya Chavez, a civics teacher at Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, are now worried about their ability to contact trace. Chavez tells ABC6 she has not been able to take attendance since the start of the year because of technical issues with the online system used for roll call.

“Providence high schools, this one included, do not have an accurate record of who is physically in the building. We’re in a pandemic– that makes contact tracing literally impossible,” said Chavez.

In addition to not being able to track her students, she said her roster is constantly changing, so she’s not sure which students are supposed to be in her class.

“Each night I go through and check if I’ve had a new student added, or if a student has been moved to a different section,” said Chavez.

Parents are also struggling with this issue. Bruce Boucek’s son’s schedule was changed during the first week, causing him to miss classes.

“We’d been told to use Skyward to go find his schedule and what we ended up finding out is that some of those times didn’t match with what was actually going on,” said Boucek.

His son is scheduled to return to school in-person next week. But Boucek is worried about the district’s ability to contact trace.

“I am not confident at all with what the Providence Public School District and the Rhode Island Department of Health have been doing in terms of contact tracing,” said Boucek.

Chavez hoped the district would be more on top of attendance records, especially after last year’s scathing Johns Hopkins report pointed out a main problem in the district was chronic absenteeism.

“You need to know where people’s children are,” said Chavez. “I’m not trying to beat up Providence for having struggled. We need to come together and recognize that we don’t have all of the resources.”

ABC6 reached out to a spokesperson for the district to see if anything is being done to correct the attendance issues, we have not heard back.

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