Superintendent Update

An Update from the Superintendent
Posted on 03/22/2020

Dear Parents,

I hope you all are finding a routine in this extended period of social distancing, and are still able to maintain virtual connections to your loved ones and friends who may not be local or may not be able to be with you. As Governor Raimondo repeats daily, we are at a critical junction in this crisis and our collective efforts at containing the spread of the virus through social distancing, staying home, and handwashing/personal hygiene all will have an immediate impact as well as an outsized effect down the road.

Our teachers, administrators, and support staff have been working very hard to ensure a successful launch of our distance learning effort. We have received questions throughout the week from parents and students, and have created a “frequently asked questions” page on our website which shares information regarding tech support, breakfast/lunch availability, special education support, internet access, and other important details. The site may be accessed here: NSS FAQ's

As we move into a distance/virtual learning environment on Monday, I do want to again share some logistics and suggested ways you can help your child be ready to learn in this different format. 

Logistics:

· Attendance: Each student is expected to engage in the learning process on a daily basis. Each school has sent home a schedule to parents which includes times for scheduled “check ins” via google hangouts, zoom, or other services, office hours for individual help, and hours for specials.

· Schedule: The schedule design for the first week of distance learning is a blend of fixed meeting times and asynchronous completion of assignments that will have a more flexible timeline but common due date. We have established schedules so students will not have conflicting meeting times with teachers. These schedules have been emailed by principals in parent letters, and these letters are posted on each school’s website. Elementary students and families will have assignments posted on the school website, and middle and high school students will have assignments posted through the PowerSchool Learning platform.

· Special Education: Special education teachers have been working closely with classroom teachers to modify assignments for students who need accommodations, and each case manager will make contact with the students and families on his/her caseload.

· Mental Health staff: Our mental health support staff will be checking in on students and families throughout the week, as will our guidance counselors. They can be reached as follows:

o   NES: Tara Reddington, School Psychologist: treddington@nssk12.org

o   NPS: Stefanie Mezzanotte, Guidance: smezzanotte@nssk12.org; Jen Benson, School Psychologist: jbenson@nssk12.org

o   NHS: Steve Pinch, Guidance: spinch@nssk12.org; Liz Alfonso, Guidance: eafonso@nssk12.org; Kristen Manchester, Guidance: kmanchester@nssk12.org; Ruth Anderson, School Psychologist; randerso@nssk12.org; Sarah Laidler, Student Assistance Counselor: slaidler@nssk12.org

o   District-wide: Rebecca Angell, Social Worker; rangell@nssk12.org

· Nurses: Our nurses can be reached at each school should you have a health related question.

o   NES: Lisa Ruscito, lruscito@nssk12.org

o   NPS: Peg Fair, mfair@nssk12.org

o   NHS: Marianne Manzi, mmanzi@nssk12.org

· Tech support is available should you need it. Please email techsupport@nssk12.org or call 401-284-4951 from 8am-3pm to reach our technical support team who will try to assist in and troubleshoot any issues you may be having.

· Wi-Fi Access: If you do not have access to Wi-Fi, Cox has made regional hotspots available throughout the state: https://www.cox.com/residential/internet/learn/cox-hotspots.html. If your household qualifies for Free/Reduced lunch, you are encouraged to apply for free internet for 30 days through Cox Communications. The Application can be found HERE.  Additional information on what Cox is offering can be found HERE.

· State Testing, AP Testing, SAT and PSAT: The State announced that RICAS ELA would be postponed. SAT testing scheduled for March and April is postponed. New dates for SAT and PSAT have not been given yet. AP is considering at-home testing. More information will be provided as it becomes available. 

· 3rd Quarter Extended 1 week: Because the vacation week was moved, the end of the 3rd quarter has been moved from April 3rd to April 10th for the middle school and high school. Due to the disruption of the learning process, please communicate with individual teachers and school principals if you have questions regarding quarter grades, assignments due, or missing work.

· Preschool tuition: We will not be collecting preschool tuition while school is not in session. All students will be considered as continuing to be enrolled, and asked to access all the lessons and activities being send by our pre-k team.

· Breakfast and Lunch: Beginning on Monday, March 23, breakfast and lunch will be available to students on a “grab and go basis.” Pick up will take place at Narragansett High School each day from 10:00-11:00 A.M. This service is available free of charge to all Rhode Island students who are 18 and under no matter where they may reside. When picking up, you do not have to leave your car as NHS will have two staff members in front of high school providing drive up service.

Preparing at home for Distance Learning:

In preparing to have productive distance learning days, some of the following tips may be useful, particularly as we transition out of vacation week.  Every family is different, but these guidelines may help set the expectations for students. In general, please start to think about ways to put regular habits and routines in place to ensure success with distance learning. 

· Get back to following a consistent daily schedule, including a regular bedtime and rising a set school day time.  Set a daily alarm if that is what you are used to.

· Get dressed each day as if you were going to school. It will be tempting to hang out in pajamas all day. This will not set the tone for a productive day.

· Try to find a personal, quiet space to do your digital learning. 

· Ensure you have access to the typical school supplies you use on a regular basis and may need. Let your teachers or principal know if you need help getting these items.

· This is not an extended vacation. Distance Learning days are school days and both students and teachers are expected to be engaged with instruction. Districts are expected to make sure everyone is accountable.

· The purpose of school closures is so we all practice social distancing to help stop the spread of the virus. This is not a time to be having playdates, sleepovers, or other social gatherings. Be smart with the decisions you make. 

· Regular sleep, exercise, and eating healthy are important for all of us during these next few weeks! 

As I have stated in previous emails, we will all need to be committed to continuing our learning, and we will all also need to be flexible and understanding as we work through the “kinks” of starting something new. Communication and patience will be key, and we will be sending surveys to parents and students during the week to receive feedback and make improvements as we progress. I ask that you remember our teachers and staff members are also learning to work from home and are establishing routines with their own families while meeting the responsibilities of suddenly becoming “on-line” educators. They have been working incredibly hard to prepare for tomorrow and the coming distance learning days, and I am grateful for their commitment to our children and incredible professionalism in this time of crisis.

As always, please reach out to your teachers, school principal, or me should you have questions.

Please stay safe and appropriately distanced from one another!

Sincerely,

Peter J. Cummings, Ed. D

Superintendent

 

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