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Portsmouth looks to increase in-person learning opportunities

Also, schools have seen 17 positive COVID-19 cases amongst students and staff since the start of the academic year

By Kristen Ray
Posted 11/18/20

PORTSMOUTH — From COVID-19 cases to upcoming schedule changes within the district, the School Committee covered a variety of topics during its virtual meeting Tuesday night, Nov. …

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Please support local news coverage –

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Portsmouth looks to increase in-person learning opportunities

Also, schools have seen 17 positive COVID-19 cases amongst students and staff since the start of the academic year

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — From COVID-19 cases to upcoming schedule changes within the district, the School Committee covered a variety of topics during its virtual meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 17:

COVID-19

The district has now seen 17 confirmed positive cases of the virus since the start of the 2020-21 school year — seven of which are currently active. Superintendent Thomas Kenworthy said. 

That data accounts for cases amongst both students and staff and can be found online at the regularly updated COVID-19 Cases Dashboard, located on the Portsmouth School Department’s homepage. 

Schedule changes

The district has been looking into ways to increase the amount of in-person learning time for those students who chose the hybrid education model, Mr. Kenworthy said.

As a result, there will be some schedule changes come the start of the second-quarter marking period. At Portsmouth Middle School, students in grades 7 and 8 will now alternate going to school in-person on Mondays, which was previously a virtual learning day for both. 

At Portsmouth High School, Mondays will remain virtual, and the district is instead looking for ways to add more in-person learning throughout the other days of the week. 

School Committee vacancy

The Town Council is slated to interview four applicants to fill the two-year vacancy left by Catherine Holtman on the School Committee at its Monday meeting, Chairwoman Emily Copeland said. 

It is her hope, she said, that a candidate will be selected in time to be sworn in along with the other elected and re-elected members of the committee on Dec. 7 and subsequent organizational meeting on Dec. 15. 

Transportation costs

The district will continue to monitor the potential for a $250,000 overrun in statewide transportation costs based on projections received from the state, Director of Finance and Administration Chris DiIuro told the school committee.

That was due to the Rhode Island Department of Education absorbing a 30-percent increase in rates after going out to bid last year, along with needing to limit ridership in order to adhere to health and safety protocols during the pandemic. 

Although Mr. DiIuro said it was still too early in the year to know anything for sure, School Committee member Allen Shers said he hoped someone at the state level was looking into moving this in house. 

“This is getting to be very extreme, in my opinion,” he said.

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