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More Portsmouth families opt for in-person/hybrid learning plan

Only about 14 percent of students going with full distance learning

By Jim McGaw
Posted 9/22/20

PORTSMOUTH — After running the figures again, the School Department is reporting a further reduction in the number of students opting for full distance learning as opposed to the …

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Please support local news coverage –

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More Portsmouth families opt for in-person/hybrid learning plan

Only about 14 percent of students going with full distance learning

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — After running the figures again, the School Department is reporting a further reduction in the number of students opting for full distance learning as opposed to the in-person/hybrid model being offered at all four schools.

At the last School Committee meeting on Sept. 8, Assistant Superintendent Elizabeth Viveiros said 378 pupils, or nearly 17 percent of the entire study body, had chosen to learn remotely from home. That figure was even higher just a week earlier, when about 24 percent of students selected the distance learning plan.

During a school reopening update presented to the committee Tuesday night, Ms. Viveiros said after a further look at the numbers, there are even fewer remote learners now.

“We continue to see our families wanting their children to attend our full in-person and hybrid models,” she said. “We started at close to 25 percent of our families opting for distance learning. Right now, we’re down to 14 percent. I truly believe this change has been greatly influenced by the commitment to our schools. They’ve been sharing so many details with our families in collaborating with them. If I ran (the numbers) again today, they would be down even a little further. Families are coming back.”

Here’s the breakdown of distance learners by school:

• Melville: 55 (16 percent of the school’s population)

• Hathaway: 77 (18 percent)

• Middle school: 103 (15 percent)

• High school: 120 (13 percent)

• Total: 355 (14 percent)

Schools opened Sept. 14 under a phased-in process in which the full hybrid model doesn’t begin until next week at the high school and middle school. 

Ms. Viveiros said overall, everything has gone smoothly so far. One issue, however, needs to be resolved at the middle school, she said, where the large learning centers have been divided in half — rather than in quarters, as is typical  — in order to allow desks to be spaced further apart. 

“The size of our middle school classrooms, which are great for distancing, are a little bit problematic when it comes to sound,” she said, noting that some distance learners are having trouble hearing the teachers. She said staff members are working on the issue, and may use microphones and amplifiers to assist students.

There also haven’t been any busing issues, but school officials will get a better idea by next week — when more students return — on any potential problems that need to be addressed.

Superintendent Thomas Kenworthy told the committee that R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green visited Melville School on Sept. 15. “She was very impressed with a lot of the things she saw there. That’s indicative of our work in all of our buildings,” he said.

The district received a followup communication from the R.I. Department of Education regarding the walkthroughs of all the schools that were carried out Sept. 4. No additional reviews of the buildings are needed at this time, he said, adding that the information is available on the district website.

Kudos to PHS

Mr. Kenworthy gave a shoutout to PHS, which fared well in this year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings of American high schools.

“Portsmouth High School was received the No. 4 ranking in the State of Rhode Island, behind only Barrington, East Greenwich and Classical,” he said.

Committee member Fred Faerber III pointed out there are about 23,000 public high schools in the country.

“So, this puts us in the top 3 percent,” he said.

Coaching appointments

The superintendent, noting the R.I. Interscholastic League (RIIL) has approved the playing of several fall sports at the high school level only, announced the following coaching appointments at PHS:

• Boys’ soccer: Michael Stinton, assisted by Jeff McGuirl and Evan Carnevale

• Girls’ soccer: Lauren Bulk, assisted by Christine Higgins and Christina Morgan

• Boys’ cross-country: Shaun Horgan

• Girls’ cross-country: Jeff Rose

• Girls’ tennis: Mark Hedden, assisted by Kasey Brown

• Cheerleading: Regina Dublin, assisted by Kerry Vye

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, RIIL ruled against a football season this fall. Organized middle school sports, which is governed separately from the RIIL, will also not be happening this fall.

 

 

 

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