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School re-entry plan: Full classes, half-classes and online

Barrington offers preview of fall re-entry plan

By Josh Bickford
Posted 7/15/20

What will school look like in the fall? That is still hard to say, but Barrington officials offered a sneak peek at their re-entry plan during an online meeting Monday night.

The draft plan, which …

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School re-entry plan: Full classes, half-classes and online

Barrington offers preview of fall re-entry plan

Posted

What will school look like in the fall? That is still hard to say, but Barrington officials offered a sneak peek at their re-entry plan during an online meeting Monday night.

The draft plan, which offers multiple options for re-entry, divides the student population into two age groups: Those in grades pre-kindergarten through sixth, and those in grades 7 to 12.

For the younger student population, full re-entry would have students staying in stable classroom groups of up to 30 people. The groups would "follow a typical grade level schedule," and co-curricular teachers would go into the classrooms.

The plan shifts for the partial in-school learning, with each class divided into two groups, each attending school in-person for three days a week and participating in distance learning for two days each week. The groups would alternate.

For the older student population (grades 7 to 12), the full in-school plan and partial in-school plan call for 50 percent of the students in the school at one time. The students would be divided by alphabetical order (last names) and each group would be in school for two days and then attend virtual instruction through live-streamed classes. The groups would alternate.

"Social distancing is used if class/room size allows or face coverings are worn," stated the district's presentation, adding "We will prioritize in-person learning for vulnerable groups. Class size will be approximately 15 students."

Barrington Superintendent of Schools Michael Messore said the information offered during the online meeting is only a small portion of the district's full re-entry plan, which must be submitted to the state on Friday, July 17. He said the full plan is extremely detailed.

"Our number one priority in this district is the health and safety of our students and staff members," Mr. Messore said during an interview on Tuesday morning.

The superintendent said he and other Barrington school officials who have been working on the plan are closely following the guidance offered by the Rhode Island Department of Health and the CDC. He said that learning cannot take place in a school if the health and safety of those in the buildings is not paramount. He said officials are working hard to closely follow the restrictions and guidance, which has, over time, been occasionally altered.

"I can understand why there's some apprehension by educators to return to school," Mr. Messore said, again emphasizing the focus on health and safety of staff and students.

The district assembled a task force to build the school re-entry plan and also surveyed parents of students.

Monday night's online meeting served as an additional opportunity for local parents and students to weigh in on the district's plans and offer their input. Mr. Messore said he believes parents were pleased that they had an opportunity to speak to school officials about the issue.

Some people took to Facebook to discuss the district's plan following the meeting, while Victoria Hosford, a former Barrington resident and certified school nurse/teacher and clinical nursing instructor at the University of Rhode Island, wrote a letter to local school officials.

"Hearing about the plan for elementary students to return to school defies the science of what we know and do not know about Covid-19, its transmission which is airborne, the need for masking and social distancing, and the long term effects this dreadful illness may cause," she wrote. "The plan for K-6 grade takes none of this into consideration."

Ms. Hosford wrote that a minimum of six feet distance between children should be maintained and mask-wearing should be required. She said she has visited classrooms at Sowams and Hampden Meadows schools and felt that they were "at capacity with little extra room."

Mr. Messore said the state will have the freedom to alter or revise portions of the districts' re-entry plans.

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