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Superintendent Updates to Families


November 24, 2020 - Reminder Message to Families about Holiday Travel

Good Morning,

On November 2nd, I sent the following message to all families regarding holiday travel to all families:

As we approach the holiday season, many families are contemplating travel and making decisions about traditional family gatherings. I am asking you to please reconsider whenever possible. As a reminder, students who travel out of state to any location with a positivity rate greater than 5% (those states are listed here, and the list is constantly updated) will require a 14-day quarantine upon return. This is the preferred response of the RI Department of Health, as a negative test only indicates that the virus is not currently present. Science suggests that it takes up to 14 days for the virus to appear after exposure, and we cannot risk having potentially positive cases in our schools that result in spread among our student body and staff. In the event there are families who must travel, our expectation is that plans are reported directly to the school so that we can accurately record absences and communicate with staff about attendance and plans for continuity of education.

The purpose of this communication is to reiterate the importance of notifying your child's school of travel plans so that we can determine the appropriate return to school date following the quarantine period. I am encouraging families not to travel, but there is no judgment if you must do so. However, I must also do everything in my power to limit risk in our buildings so that we can remain open and continue to offer in-person learning to all of our students. Open, honest communication between our schools and our families is necessary for us to achieve this goal.

PLEASE, do not forget to keep us in the loop. I appreciate our community so much, and I wish you all a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,

James Erinakes
Superintendent


November 19, 2020 - Governor's Announcement - Senior High School

Dear Families,

Yesterday evening I was informed that the Governor would be making some announcements at today's press conference that would add restrictions in a number of areas to address rising case numbers in the State. Unfortunately, information was released to the press almost immediately after it was shared with Superintendents, which gave me almost no time to get ahead of communicating how the announcement would impact our communities. I met with State leaders this morning, and the message delivered at the 1:00 press conference represents a change to what was reported on the news last evening.

For reasons indicated by the data, the RIDOH is asking for a two week pause starting immediately after the Thanksgiving weekend and lasting until December 11th. That pause impacts athletics and provides for a limited return model at senior high schools across the State if deemed necessary by Superintendents. Our number of cases is low, and we have had zero instances of "spread" within the school building. We want our kids in our building, and our data does not support moving to a more limited return model at this time. We will continue to monitor our situation, and will make any necessary adjustments based on our school population positivity/spread rates, and our ability to fully staff our building. Please do your part in helping to be sure our numbers stay low - if you travel or host a larger family gathering for the holiday then self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution.

This has been a challenging year, to say the least - but our re-entry has been exceptional. As always, I appreciate your ongoing support and flexibility. For now, there are no changes to our senior high school schedule and our children will continue with in-person learning. I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving (with your immediate family!!!!!).

Sincerely,

James Erinakes
Superintendent


November 2, 2020 - COVID, quarantines, schools, sports, gatherings and holiday activities

Good afternoon,

I am writing to share some updates, guidance, trends and thoughts about the current state of affairs in Exeter-West Greenwich Schools, our community and the State in general. The news about the rate of spread of the virus is alarming, and we are experiencing some impact here in EWG.

I continue to be proud of our schools and our District - we are providing a quality educational experience to all families that includes in-person learning to every family who has requested it. The work our reentry planning committee did to ready schools for in-person learning has proven to be well worth the investment. While in school, students are adhering to the mask requirement, social distancing protocols, and all other health and safety procedures that have been established to ensure maximum safety. Our desire is to maintain the opportunity for in-person learning to continue for as long as we are allowed to do so. Our ability to meet this objective requires the help of everyone in our community.

To date, we have had a handful of positive student cases in our grades 2-12 schools. The contact tracing protocols carried out by the RI Department of Health have allowed us to identify and quarantine close contacts, resulting in no further spread for any of our in-person student confirmed cases, or any of the positive family/close contact cases for our in-person students and staff. In other words, the data suggests that the spread in EWG is not occurring in schools.

As I am privy to a good amount of information related to the findings of the contact tracing protocols, there are two major trends that have emerged. First, most of our mandated quarantines can be traced directly back to sporting events (including town leagues). In many of these cases, athletes are not adhering strictly to precautionary measures, families are carpooling without masks, and team members are socializing outside of practices and games in unstructured settings. Too often, the comfort of being with friends results in a lower rate of compliance with precautionary measures. Last week, 38 student athletes at the JSHS were quarantined for 14 days based on two sporting events. For many of these students and their families, the disruption to their education and their livelihood is both detrimental and unnecessary. We have to do better!

The second emerging trend is the number of community cases that have been linked back to gatherings of family and friends - resulting in the mandatory quarantining of both students and staff. Again, these unstructured gatherings seem to be a place where people are letting their guards down - and the data suggests that we can not allow this to happen. This is another area where we must do better.

As we approach the holiday season, many families are contemplating travel and making decisions about traditional family gatherings. I am asking you to please reconsider whenever possible. As a reminder, students who travel out of state to any location with a positivity rate greater than 5% (those states are listed here, and the list is constantly updated) will require a 14-day quarantine upon return. This is the preferred response of the RI Department of Health, as a negative test only indicates that the virus is not currently present. Science suggests that it takes up to 14 days for the virus to appear after exposure, and we cannot risk having potentially positive cases in our schools that result in spread among our student body and staff. In the event there are families who must travel, our expectation is that plans are reported directly to the school so that we can accurately record absences and communicate with staff about attendance and plans for continuity of education.

In terms of family gatherings, please adhere to the guidelines established by the Governor and the RI Department of Health. Gatherings should not exceed the maximum allowable size (currently at 10), and all Rhode Islanders must adhere to staying within a stable, consistent and closed circle of contacts - again, not to exceed 10 at the current time. Note that this closed circle includes family members, co-workers and friends.

Data at the State, community and school levels will determine our ability to maintain in-person learning. Keeping the schools open is important for the education of our children and for our working families to be able to continue to work. I am asking everyone to do their part so that we can continue to do what is necessary for the good of this entire community.

Please feel free to reach out to your school principals or to me with any questions, concerns or suggestions. I appreciate your ongoing support and partnership.

Sincerely,

James Erinakes
Superintendent


October 6, 2020 - Important Information from the Superintendent

Dear Families,

I am writing to communicate some updates, changes, and reminders based on our experience so far with returning to in-person learning. Overall, things have gone amazingly well, and our children have been compliant, respectful and engaged. We continue to reflect on the safety protocols we have put in place and we make adjustments as needed to ensure that our schools remain a safe place for learning to occur. This school year is and will remain a year like no other, and the need to remain flexible is paramount.

Here are some very important updates:

  • The approved school calendar includes several full distance learning days which have been added by the State for all districts. The first of those days is Monday, October 19th. There will be no in-person learning on that day. Instead, children will work from home based on the schedule and assignments provided by their classroom teacher(s). Teachers will be available to support at-home learning for the first 4 hours of the day and then they will have time for professional development and planning in the afternoon.
  • The approved school calendar also includes two early release days at the end of the month for parent-teacher conferences. Based on the complexity of the bus schedules due to an additional tier of elementary runs, and the fact that we will not be offering in-person parent conferences, we have decided that it is in our best interest to adjust those days as follows:
    1. October 29th will now be a normal school day, meaning there will be no adjustments made to the existing school start and end times at all grade levels.
    2. October 30th will now be a normal school day for grades 7-12, meaning there will be no adjustments made to the existing school start and end times at those grade levels only. Grades K-6 (Wawaloam and Metcalf) will have a full distance learning day, and there will be no in-person learning scheduled. Teachers will provide students with work in advance, which will include some independent practice, reading, and virtual specials - but they will not be available during the day to support the at-home learning assignments. This will be a day that we have set aside for teachers to schedule virtual parent conferences with families.
  • Unfortunately we are still awaiting delivery of Chromebooks that have been backordered. Until we take delivery of those new Chromebooks we do not have enough devices to provide Full In Person students devices for use on full distance learning days.
  • Face masks have been less of an issue than any of us imagined. Even our preschoolers have readily accepted that this is part of their normal routine at school - it is pretty remarkable to watch! However, the Rhode Island Department of Health has released some updated guidance on face masks which indicates that Gaiters and bandanas are not supported as appropriate face coverings. We are asking that families help us transition students to the use of more traditional face masks so that we are fully compliant with RIDOH guidelines and recommendations.
  • We have offered a number of options for families to document the daily health screening for their children, a requirement that has been established by the Rhode Island Department of Health and outlined in our district re-entry plan. If a child has any of the symptoms (even if it is only one), they must stay home from school until they have met the requirement for returning to in-person learning. As a reminder, the requirements are as follows:
    1. If the child has a new cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing or new loss of taste or smell - they are considered a probable case for COVID.
    2. If the child has two or more of the following symptoms: fever, chills, muscle/body aches, headache, sore throat, fatigue, congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting or diarrhea - they are considered a probable case for COVID.
    3. Any probable case scenarios must be reported to the school nurse immediately.
    4. Probable cases require testing for COVID, and results must be reported to the school nurse so that she can provide further guidance and ultimately give the all clear for in-person return based on RIDOH guidance.
    5. Any child who exhibits one of the symptoms listed above in #2 is considered symptomatic, but not probable. COVID testing is not required, but the child must be fever free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and the symptom must improve (back to normal health) in order to return to in-person learning. Note: Regardless of the strategy chosen by families to document the daily screening process, any child who is returning to school after having symptoms MUST complete a re-entry attestation (different from the daily screening). A link to this printable re-entry attestation is included here. Parents may also address this requirement electronically by completing this survey linked to the child's school:
  • Attendance at school matters! We have been very accommodating to the wishes and requests of elementary families, who have chosen full distance learning, full in-person learning, or a hybrid return. Our teachers have an incredible responsibility, and it is a mounting challenge to manage the children who are absent due to COVID-like symptoms and/or quarantining requirements. A family can not elect to keep their child home on a scheduled in-person day because it is convenient - attendance is still mandatory, and those absences are unexcused. Family vacations or get-aways are still considered unexcused absences. Distance learning on non-COVID related days should not be viewed as a viable option for families. Please understand that this puts unnecessary stress on classroom teachers - and we need to take care of them, too!

Thank you for your ongoing support and understanding.

James Erinkaes
Superintendent


SEPTEMBER 12, 2020 - Attendance, Daily Screening and Forms - STUDENTS AND VISITORS

Good Evening,

I am providing an outline of the requirements for students and visitors with respect to pick-up/drop-off, attendance, daily screening and forms below.

Students

Pick-up/Drop-off times for students are as follows:

Wawaloam: Drop off at 9:30, Pick up at 3:00

Metcalf Grades 2-3: Drop off at 9:25, Pick up at 2:55

Metcalf Grades 3-6: Drop off at 8:25, Pick up at 1:55

JHS: Drop off 7:05, Pick up 12:45

All students (or parents on behalf of their child(ren)) are required to conduct a daily self-screening of physical health symptoms to determine if they are allowed to report to school, in-person. This is a daily requirement, and we must have evidence on file that each and every student is following the mandate. This may be done in one of three ways:

  • Complete the following electronic student/family contract indicating that you will conduct a daily screening of your child to verify that he/she is eligible to report to school in person according to the RIDOH guidance. The signed contract must be submitted (once) immediately.
  • Complete this electronic survey daily. Answers will be collected automatically so that we can verify that you are eligible to report to school in person.
  • Print, complete and submit this screening survey daily. Completed forms must be handed to your bus driver/monitor prior to boarding or to your classroom teacher upon arrival.

For reference, the District is following the guidance distributed by the Rhode Island Department of Health through their "Playbook."

Here is a summary of the decision making process (Taken from the Playbook and clarified this week by the RIDOH):

Anyone with any of the following symptoms that cannot be attributed to allergies or another non-infectious cause must stay home (or be sent home) from school: New cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, fever/chills, muscle or body aches, headaches, sore throat, fatigue, new congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting, or diarrhea

It is important to know if you are considered to be a probable case for COVID. In order to be considered probable, an individual has any one of the following: New cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, or new loss of taste or smell. An individual is also considered probable if they have any two of the following: Fever/chills, muscle or body aches, headaches, sore throat, fatigue, new congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting, or diarrhea.

If you meet the criteria to be considered a probable case, you are required to be tested for COVID. In order to return to school, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Tested negative for COVID19, has been fever free for 24 hours and symptoms improved (back to usual health), OR
  • Tested positive for COVID19 and has since met CDC/RIDOH guidelines for ending isolation. (Note - RIDOH will advise on all positive cases).

If you have any of the above mentioned symptoms, but do not meet the criteria for being considered a probable case, then in order to return to school you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Tested negative for COVID-19, has been fever free for 24 hours and symptoms improved (back to usual health), OR
  • Tested positive for COVID-19 and has since met CDC/RIDOH guidelines for ending isolation. (Note - RIDOH will advise on all positive cases), OR
  • Not tested, has been fever free for 24 hours and symptoms improved (back to usual health).

Temperature Screenings:

Temperature checks will be conducted for all individuals prior to entering the building following the procedures outlined in this document.

Visitors:

The District will be limiting visitors to all buildings to only what is absolutely necessary. In the event a visitor has been given preliminary permission to enter any school building, he/she MUST complete a self-screening survey and must have their temperature checked by an EWG employee to verify that it is not at or above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Actual admittance into any school building is subject to meeting all health and safety requirements as outlined by the RI Department of Health.

IMPORTANT: All absences must be reported to the school as soon as possible. When reporting an absence, please be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Is the absence is COVID-related or not?
  • Is the student able to engage remotely during his/her absence or not?
  • If COVID related, is the student considered a probable case for COVID, or not?
  • If COVID related, has the student been, or will he/she be getting tested for COVID?

This information is required so that we can accurately record the child's attendance in our information system, and so that our school nurse can track and report potential COVID cases.

If the child is well enough to participate in his/her learning remotely, the child will be marked present for learning (but absent from the building) if he/she participates in scheduled meetings and/or completes and submits assigned work during the school day. If the child is unable to participate in his/her learning remotely, he/she will be marked absent from school. If the absence is COVID/COVID symptom related, it will be coded as excused.

We look forward to seeing everyone on Monday!

James Erinakes

Superintendent


September 9, 2020 - Distance Learning Devices for Elementary Students

I know that many families need devices to use at home for Distance Learning, while many still have devices issued in the spring. We can also swap devices if the one you have is not working.

Students can also use personal devices to begin the school year, and if those don't work out we can make arrangements to loan a device after school starts.

We will have a distribution point open this Friday from 7:30 am to 11:30 am at Metcalf School for families to come pick up devices for their elementary students. If this time doesn't work please fill out this form so we can make other arrangements.

If you are unable to come to the school please fill out this form and we can arrange for a delivery.

Thank you for your patience.

~

Jeremy S. Taylor
Director of Instructional & Information Technology
Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School District

jeremy_taylor@ewg.k12.ri.us

Desk 401-450-0129


August 28, 2020 - Follow-Up to Community Forum held on Wednesday

Good Morning,

As promised during this week's community forum, we are following up with some helpful documents, and a reminder about the new surveys that require attention.

First, the district's re-entry plan summary table provides a school-by-school summary of many of the key topics contained in the lengthy re-entry plan submitted to the State. Additionally, we are providing answers to the most frequently asked questions, including those addressed during the forum this past Wednesday.

Finally, an important reminder to complete the Preference Survey that was sent out earlier in the week. We are excited to be able to provide each elementary family with exactly what they are comfortable with in terms of a full or partial return scenario.... but that requires us to be informed of your wishes. If you have opted for full distance learning for your child, this survey is not required. The deadline for completion of this survey is close of business on Monday, August 31st. I promise, this will take less than two minutes, but the information is necessary for us to finalize class lists and bus routes.

Thank you again for your support as we continue to work through the details of our return to schools.

Sincerely,

James Erinakes
Superintendent


August 25, 2020 - Message to ALL Families and Elementary Community Forum this Wednesday

Good Afternoon,

As we approach the start of the new school year, I want to take this opportunity to share some updated information with families.

As I stated in my last communication, we have collected responses from almost every family regarding the choice of full distance learning or returning to in-person learning. To be clear, if you choose in-person learning, it will be under whichever model we are permitted to offer per order of the Governor (Limited return, partial return, or full return). If you are choosing full distance learning, you have decided that your child will not be returning to in-person learning under any reentry scenario. If at this point you would like to change the decision that you previously submitted for this question, please submit a new response to this Reopening Survey. I will delete your previous response so that our numbers are as accurate as possible - a necessity for us to plan final class rosters and bus transportation routes.

All indications are that we will be given the clear to re-open for in-person learning, although this will not be official until the Governor's announcement which is expected on August 31st.

  • The JSHS re-entry plan has not changed - it will be a hybrid in-person/distance learning return as outlined in the re-entry plan posted on our district website.
  • For elementary (K-6) families, I shared our re-entry plan and the feedback from the State during our last community forum on August 6th. Additionally, I followed up with a new preference survey immediately after the last community forum regarding the partial re-entry scenario. At this point, we have received almost 400 responses - and that has helped us to make some final decisions for a revised partial re-entry plan that I submitted to the State yesterday.
  • Given the changes, which have all been made based on the reported preferences of our families, I will be holding a new K-6 Community Forum tomorrow evening (Wednesday, 8/26/2020) at 6:00 PM to outline the details and answer questions. This forum will be recorded and posted on our website so that it can be viewed at a future time if the timing of the live event does not work for your schedule. The community forum will have a limited capacity. While we don't anticipate hitting that maximum limit, we are providing the following guidance: We ask that families use a maximum of one device to attend the community forums on Zoom. We may ask staff to leave the Zoom meeting to make room for families. Community members and staff who do not wish to ask questions during the forum may watch the forum live (or at a later time) on YouTube
  • In essence, we have the ability to offer our K-6 families choice (Full distance learning, full in-person learning, or a hybrid plan) based on your personal preferences. In order for us to finalize class lists and transportation plans, it is extremely important that we know every family's decision for each child as soon as possible.
  • Please join me tomorrow evening, or watch the recording soon after, so that you have all of the information necessary to make an informed decision for your child(ren). Once you are ready, and only if you are choosing in-person learning, we will need you to complete the following preference survey as soon as possible so that we are able to move ahead with our final planning steps. This is a new survey that we are asking all K-6 families who are opting for in-person learning to respond to.

Thank you again for your continued support.

Sincerely,

James Erinakes
Superintendent

K-6 Elementary Community Forum Info:

Watch on YouTube (both LIVE and available for later viewing)
https://youtu.be/HgPZMMk9exA

Join by computer or mobile device:
https://ewg.zoom.us/j/86873111421

One tap mobile
+12678310333,,86873111421# US (Philadelphia)
+16465189805,,86873111421# US (New York)

Join by Phone:
+1 267 831 0333 US (Philadelphia)
+1 646 518 9805 US (New York)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 868 7311 1421


August 12, 2020 - IMPORTANT - Return to School Surveys

Good Afternoon,

I am providing several updates based on new information from the state, as well as feedback from our recent community forums.

  • In many of my communications, I have referenced the Playbook that we were expecting from the RI Department of Health that would outline our responsibilities in terms of responding to various COVID scenarios upon reentry to school. I am providing the link to that document, which was released late last week. This document should be considered an addendum to our reentry plan, as we will be following the guidance of the experts in all situations. I know that many parents wanted to know specific information about how we would be responding to a variety of scenarios, so this playbook should help to address those questions.

https://health.ri.gov/publications/presentations/Outbreak-Response-Protocols-PreK-12.pdf

Clarifications regarding potential return plans:

  • Exeter-West Greenwich wants our children to return to in-person learning, to the maximum extent possible, based on our ability to implement the health and safety measures outlined in the guidance provided to us by the RI Department of Health and the RI Department of Education. We, however, will receive direction on which reentry scenario we can offer from the Governor's office. I do not have the authority to make that decision independent of State leadership.
  • If we return under the limited in-person model, we will offer in-person learning at all grade levels only to the students who have the greatest academic and/or social-emotional needs. Staff from each school have worked diligently to identify those students with the greatest need, and families will be contacted to be sure that we are all in agreement with the plan. In the meantime, families may request consideration for their child to be included in this category (based on academic and/or social-emotional need) by filling out this Limited In-Person Consideration Request Form.
  • If we return under any model where only some children are in person on any given day, we will still offer full in-person learning to the students identified under the limited in-person return model.
  • For Wawaloam and Metcalf families only: During our community forum last week, I shared that the State has asked all districts to include full elementary grade in-person return, even under the partial in-person return model. I also shared the district's concerns regarding our ability to maximize all of the health and safety precautions if we offer full in-person elementary return in an environment where the State has not deemed it safe for all schools to open up under the full in-person return model. In a very informal poll taken during our community forum, the results showed that 67% of families preferred limiting the number of children in the buildings on any given day in order to reduce pod sizes and increase social distancing measures. The remaining 33% of families prefer full in-person return. We would like to have a better sense of where all of our Wawaloam and Metcalf families stand with respect to this decision so that we can respond to the State's feedback. Please fill out this very brief In-Person Learning Preference Survey for each child that you have enrolled at either Wawaloam or Metcalf schools (Grades K-6). Note that if the State announces that it is safe to return to full in-person learning, we will do just that. The survey only pertains to the partial in-person return scenario.
  • Finally, we have collected responses from almost every family regarding the choice of full distance learning or returning to in-person learning. To be clear, if you choose in-person learning, it will be under whichever model we are permitted to offer per order of the Governor (Limited return, partial return, or full return). If you are choosing full distance learning, you have decided that your child will not be returning to in-person learning under any reentry scenario. If at this point you would like to change the decision that you previously submitted for this question, please submit a new response to this Reopening Survey.

Thank you for your ongoing support as we continue to prepare for a safe reopening of our schools.

James Erinakes
Superintendent


August 7, 2020 - Community Forums

Superintendent Erinakes held two community forums this week to discuss our reopening plans. We invite those who were not able to attend to view them on YouTube at the following links:

PK-6 Community Forum
https://youtu.be/Z9nmHNj-a_0

7-12 Community Forum
https://youtu.be/XzKUZbQTIJs


August 3, 2020 - Community Forums

Dear EWG Families,

As I mentioned in a previous correspondence, I have scheduled two Community Forums scheduled for this week to answer as many questions as I can related to school re-entry. The first session, which is scheduled for Wednesday, August 5th, beginning at 6:30 PM, will address school re-entry for students in grades PreK-6th. The second session, which is scheduled for Thursday, August 6th, also beginning at 6:30 PM, will address school re-entry for students in grades 7-12. You are free to attend both sessions if you have children in multiple grade levels though the information will most likely be repetitive.

The forums will provide you with an opportunity to ask questions, however, I cannot promise that I have answers for everything. I will do my best to obtain answers to questions for which I do not have the information and reply back to you via a communication from my office. If you would like, post your question(s) to  this Google form prior to the forums. This will provide us with an opportunity to anticipate your concerns as well as to group together similar questions, which will make our forum discussion more efficient.

The Zoom links below will provide you with access to the community forums for both days.

Sincerely yours,

James Erinakes
Superintendent

Note

The community forums will have a limited capacity. While we don't anticipate hitting that maximum limit, we are providing the following guidance:

We ask that families use a maximum of one device to attend the community forums on Zoom.

We may ask staff to leave the Zoom meeting to make room for families.

Community members and staff who do not wish to ask questions during the forum may watch the forum live (or at a later time) using the YouTube links.

PK-6 Community Forum - August 5th 6:30 PM

https://youtu.be/Z9nmHNj-a_0

Join Zoom Meeting:  https://ewg.zoom.us/j/89451075109?pwd=dEZFL0xDZkl6...

Meeting ID: 894 5107 5109

Passcode: 054514

Join by Phone:

+1 401 735 0009 US (Providence via EWG)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 267 831 0333 US (Philadelphia)
+1 646 518 9805 US (New York)

GR 7-12 Community Forum - August 6th 6:30 PM

https://youtu.be/XzKUZbQTIJs

Join Zoom Meeting:  https://ewg.zoom.us/j/83424901096?pwd=QUlEWjJmSjBM...

Meeting ID: 834 2490 1096

Passcode: 298977

Join by Phone:

+1 401 735 0009 US (Providence via EWG)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 267 831 0333 US (Philadelphia)
+1 646 518 9805 US (New York)


July 24, 2020 - EWG Reopening Survey for Parents

Dear families,

Yesterday I sent out the draft of EWG's re-entry plan, and I indicated that a short survey would be coming soon. Please fill this survey out separately for each child who is enrolled in EWG for the upcoming school year. That is, if you have three children, please submit three survey responses - one for each child.

https://forms.gle/1saxypm6idgAfQfJ8

It is critical that we have a 100% response rate to this survey so that we can finalize our plans for staffing and student groupings. Please take a moment to provide us with this necessary information by July 31st. Note that there are a few questions related to social-emotional health that are optional for you to answer - we want to understand how we can better serve the needs of our community in this important area.

Finally, I have received a number of positive messages regarding our plan, but one question/concern was raised frequently regarding the inconsistent method by which students were chosen to attend in-person learning under any of the hybrid models. This has been adjusted so there is consistency across the district. A summary is below:

Lineham: All students attend in-person under all scenarios

Wawaloam and Metcalf: All students attend every day under full in-person model (K-3 start 1 hour later and leave at typical time; 4-6 arrive at typical time and leave 1 hour early)

Under partial in-person return, Exeter students attend Monday and Tuesday while WG students attend Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is a full distance learning day for the district.

JHS and SHS: For full in-person return, Exeter students attend Monday and Tuesday while WG students attend Thursday and Friday. Wednesday alternates in-person learning by town.

For partial return, the same schedule applies as full in-person return, except that Wednesday is a full distance learning day for the district.

For limited in-person return, targeted students will be identified for return to in-person learning - regardless of town of residence.

Our plans have been updated to reflect this change.

Again, I appreciate your ongoing support.

James Erinakes
Superintendent


July 23, 2020 - Public Release of EWG Re-Entry Plan

Dear EWG Families,

For the past several weeks, a group of over 75 individuals, including parents, community members, and staff from every building worked to craft draft re-entry plans for our EWG students. Note that these plans continue to be reviewed and revised based on ongoing feedback from many stakeholders, including the RI Department of Education and the RI Department of Health.

I am releasing this draft document for your review. Please take some time to understand our current proposals, and make note of any questions or concerns that you might have. There are a couple of important upcoming events that I want to address:

First, a new (brief) survey will be sent out to families soon. It is absolutely critical that we receive responses from everyone so that we can finalize our plans for staffing and student groupings. This survey will ask if you will be sending your child(ren) to school for in-person learning, if allowed by the State, or if you are opting for a distance learning environment based on your own concerns and preferences. Many of you indicated that you needed additional information in order to make that decision, and I hope that the attached plan provides those answers for you.

Yes, we will be offering distance learning as an option at all grade levels. We hope that you will consider this option in lieu of withdrawal so that we can stay connected to your family and provide ongoing instructional, social-emotional, and resource supports throughout the year.

Secondly, I am announcing two virtual community forums in early August, where I will be providing additional details of our plans as well as provide an opportunity for you to ask questions and communicate openly about the upcoming school year. One forum will be held for PK-6 parents, and a second forum will be offered for 7-12 parents. I will be using Zoom for these forums, and the links will be sent out a couple days in advance. Please hold the dates of August 5th (PK-6) and August 6th (7-12) so you can participate in these important conversations. Both will be scheduled after work hours for everyone's convenience.

I will continue to keep everyone updated with new information as it is made available. Regardless, it is important for our community to understand and trust that every decision that we make is based on the health and safety of our students and our staff above all else. I appreciate your ongoing support and commitment to our schools.

Sincerely,

James Erinakes

Superintendent


June 23, 2020 - EWG 2020/2021 School Opening Survey

Dear EWG Families:

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!

As you are all aware, the Governor has announced the goal to return to full, in-person learning on August 31st. The State has released a set of comprehensive guidelines and parameters to assist districts with planning for the safe return of our students. These guidelines will require us to think very differently about the way we provide a traditional educational experience at all levels.

We are reaching out to families to provide us with information that will impact our planning in three specific areas: Transportation, Enrollment and Distance Learning. Given the restrictions on the number of students who can ride on a bus and our requirement to limit interactions among different “pods” of students to the maximum extent possible, the information we are requesting is critical for us to prepare our reopening plans and address the significant budgetary implications of implementing those plans.

Please fill out this survey to the best of your ability and submit your responses as soon as possible, but no later than June 30th if at all possible. We understand that as more information becomes available, your answers to these questions may change. We will re-survey families in mid-August to update our information.

https://forms.gle/TPweEdgcwQQ8WpBQ7

Sincerely,

James Erinakes
Superintendent


June 22, 2020 - Planning Committee - Reopening for 2020-21

Good Morning,

It is time for us to formalize the planning process for the reopening of schools in August, 2020. As you may be aware, RIDE released guidance last Friday immediately following the Governor's press conference. I have attached that guidance for your review.

I am seeking volunteers to serve on this planning committee. The task at hand is monumental, and in order for us to reopen for in-person learning to the maximum extent possible, while following all of the health and safety parameters set by this guidance, we will need to think differently about every aspect of traditional schooling. As described in the attached Framework document, step one is as follows:

Launch a Reopening Schools Committee: Determine a leader with single point accountability, meaning there is one person who is ultimately responsible. This committee will assist in planning and implementing plans according to the latest public health information and RIDE’s guidance.

o The Reopening Schools Committee should include staff from various key stakeholder groups: (e.g. central office staff, Director of Maintenance, Head of Human Resources, Special Education Directors, Technology Director, Certified and Noncertified Staff, Union Presidents, parent, School Committee Chairperson, Director of Food Services, and a school nurse representative). o The Reopening Schools Committee should have a representative from each school in the district or at least one from each educational level (I.e., elementary, middle, high).

o Determine which additional stakeholder groups need to be consulted with, but not necessarily serve as standing members of the committee (e.g., transportation, before/after school care).

Individuals selected to serve on this committee will need to familiarize themselves with each of these documents, and will help to craft three reopening plans as described in the guidance. We will need to make some significant decisions, solicit input from a variety of stakeholders, and prepare the EWG submission to RIDE by July 17, 2020.

In addition, I am looking for volunteers to be critical readers of our draft documents for additional rounds of feedback, input and revision prior to final submission to RIDE.

If you would like to be considered for this important committee, or to be a critical reader of our draft documents, please send me an email response to this communication by Thursday (6/25/20). I will be in touch by Friday to announce committee membership and describe next steps.

Thank you in advance!

Jim


June 12, 2020 - Message from the Superintendent Re: Governor's Announcement

Good Morning,

During her press conference this week, Governor Raimondo stated that it is her GOAL that all school districts aim to return to in-person learning on August 31, 2020. It is also the goal of the Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School District to reopen schools for all of our students. To do this properly, we need to ensure we can offer a safe and healthy learning environment while simultaneously implementing required protocols and practices to ensure the well-being of our students, staff, and families. In short, the goal of reopening to in-person learning is subject to a host of variables and conditions that change as we learn more about the virus and its impact on the State.

The Governor simultaneously released a statewide school calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. I realize that at this time you may have many questions about the reopening of our school buildings, this new statewide calendar, and how we will all be impacted.

In the coming weeks, the RI Department of Education, (RIDE) and the RI Department of Health (RIDOH) will provide specific guidance for the school departments. We are required to develop a series of plans that are due to the RI Department of Education in mid-July.

The EWG leadership team has been diligently reviewing state and federal information, CDC guidelines, and frameworks from other states for reopening schools. We will need to work collaboratively to lead the effort on our re-entry, as we did to prepare for the transition to distance learning in March. We will also be reaching out to parents and the community as we dig into the feedback and communication for these plans. Surveys will be shared in the coming days to learn about your concerns, thoughts, interests, and transportation needs.

While there is still much to anticipate, I do know the following:

  • This statewide calendar is required to be implemented by all school districts for the 2020-2021 school year. ( Link for Calendar and Link for Calendar FAQ)
  • The first day of school will be August 31 and the 180th day of school will be June 16th.
  • The school calendar consists of 180 instructional days which also includes monthly professional development days for staff. Teachers and support staff will participate in professional learning to assist them in the provision of instruction.
  • On these professional development days, students will be participating in distance learning lessons from home; they will not be vacation days as they have been in the distance learning schedule this spring.
  • All districts will have the same vacations; February 15-19, 2021 and April 19-23, 2021.
  • Snow days will still be at the discretion of local districts; they will not be state-wide. If EWG does have any snow days, distance learning lessons can be sent to students and it will be an instructional day. Snow days will not be made up at the end of the school year.
  • Four additional staff days will be added to the calendar, which will not impact instructional days for students and families.
  • This new school calendar will be adopted by the EWG School Committee at our next meeting.

Throughout the summer we will continue our regular updates. It is my goal to work collaboratively with our community, to be transparent, and to communicate updated information to you as it becomes available. I appreciate your patience and support as we develop our plans for reopening schools. I encourage you to get involved in the conversations about how to do that safely.

Finally, I would like to re-emphasize how proud I am of our students, our families and our staff for all that you did to make the most out of a very challenging situation over the past three months. I am confident that together we will be ready for reopening in the fall - however that may look. Please take time to enjoy your summer break and stay safe.

James Erinakes
Superintendent

For reference, I have enclosed the message released by the Department of Health after the Governor’s briefing this week. Please note the highlighted language of the communication. We share a common goal to reopen with in-person learning for all students, but at this point, that is not a certainty.

June 10, 2020
Governor Announces Goal for In-Person Learning This Fall, Updates for SNAP and Rhode Island Works Recipients
Governor Gina M. Raimondo, Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), and Angélica Infante-Green, the Commissioner of the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), provided details today on the state’s response to COVID-19. The Governor announced that all school districts are aiming to return to in-person learning on August 31st. The state’s approach includes the adoption of a statewide calendar for all public school districts to use during the 2020-2021 academic year. RIDE is working with RIDOH to develop a continuum of school-reopening scenarios, which balance prioritizing the health and safety of school communities with providing in-person instruction as soon as possible. RIDE will be providing guidance to districts, charter schools, and state-run schools next week to help them develop their own individual back-to-school plans. Those plans will be submitted to RIDE for review and implementation support. Schools will be ready to conduct distance learning throughout the school year if students become sick, are quarantined, or are otherwise unable to attend school for an extended period of time. RIDE will continue to work with local education agencies (LEAs, which include districts, charters, and state-run schools) to review statewide plans and coordinate with local education leaders on implementation. The state is planning to provide financial support to districts as they implement their individual reopening plans. There will be a focus on equity, including a prioritization of resources for communities with higher rates of COVID-19. Support will include additional funding from the CARES Act to offset increased costs LEAs will incur, such as increased transportation and cleaning costs. For more information, visit RIDE’s COVID-19 web page. The Governor also announced that, for the first time, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants are now able to select and pay for their groceries online using their EBT card at Amazon and participating Walmart stores. For more details, visit dhs.ri.gov. DHS also recently received approval to issue a Rhode Island Works emergency payment to families currently receiving these RI Works benefits. This payment is to help offset expenses that may have occurred during this pandemic. The $1.6M through the CARES Act will help 3,700 Rhode Island Works families and is a one-time payment for families who were eligible in either April or May and are receiving benefits in June. The funds will be put on parents’ EBT cards on June 19th. For more details, visit dhs.ri.gov


MAY 29, 2020 - LETTER TO FAMILIES


April 22, 2020 - Distance Learning Updates - Week 5

Good Morning,

It is hard to believe we are already in week 5 of distance learning, and I continue to be in awe of the incredible work of our entire community as we make the best of our circumstances during this unprecedented time. Thank you!

I have been waiting on a new announcement from our Governor on the status of schools for the remainder of this school year. Yesterday, Massachusetts made the call to close all schools with a plan to reopen in 2020-2021 and Governor Raimondo stated that she would have an announcement "later this week." When a final decision is made, I will send out notification to staff and families.

In the meantime, I want to provide you with some updates and resources:

This document ( https://5il.co/ffji) has a summary of available resources for students, families and staff who are experiencing any type of hardship. Feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression are becoming more and more common. So many people have lost their jobs and are experiencing financial hardship on top of all the added pressures of the pandemic. It is important to take care of yourself and each other. Please use this guide to connect yourself with available resources - both through our school district and through state agencies. Thank you to our clinical staff for putting this document together for us.

As you may be aware, the Rhode Island Department of Education has been particularly focused on increasing family participation, because parent voices are too often left out of the discussion when it comes to their child's education. This data can help us to make informed decisions on things like how and when to engage families, and policies surrounding student support, coursework selections, and career readiness. Each year, families are asked to offer their voice through the SurveyWorks questionnaire. The SurveyWorks window will remain open now through April 30, 2020, and we would love to have as much input as possible from our EWG community. SurveyWorks can be completed on a computer, tablet, or mobile device, and below please find simple, step-by-step directions for filling out the survey:

5 Easy Steps to Complete Your Family Survey

Step 1: Visit surveys.panoramaed.com/ride

Step 2: Enter your school’s unique access code. This will be a school identifying code, followed by the word “family” (all lower case). For example: 12345family

Lineham code: 97102

Wawaloam code: 97101

Metcalf code: 97103

JHS code: 97105

SHS code: 97106

Step 3: On the Welcome page, your school’s survey will be displayed. Click “Start Surveys”

Step 4: You have now accessed the family survey. In the top left hand corner, there is a drop down menu. Select English or Spanish or Portuguese.

Step 5: For each question, select the answers that best apply to your experience and beliefs. Once finished, click “Submit,” and you are done!

Tonight, we will be hosting a virtual parent forum for our class of 2020 families. The goal is to share as much information as possible and listen to questions, concerns and recommendations so that as we move forward, decisions can be made with all perspectives in mind. While the official decision of the Governor has not been communicated publicly, we are operating under the assumption that we will not be able to return to school for the remainder of the year, we will not be able to hold proms, and we will need to rethink graduation ceremonies so that they comply with the Governor's Executive Orders and the recommendations of the RI Department of Health. We WILL figure out how to properly celebrate the accomplishments of our amazing class of 2020 with input from our staff, our students, and our families.

Please stay safe and healthy. I think about you all every day.

Jim Erinakes
Superintendent


April 13, 2020 - #EWGSTRONG Video

Good Morning,

Thank you to Stacey Place for creating this amazing video based on student, family and staff submissions (and some additional photo-editing). Hopefully this will bring you some sunshine on a very dreary day. Click on the link below and enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91f_4Lviy8Q

Jim


April 6, 2020 - Distance Learning Family Survey Results - Recommendations - FAQ

Dear Families,

Please find my summary of the distance learning survey that was taken at the conclusion of week 1 at this web address: https://5il.co/eqyj

This summary was shared with all staff as a way to highlight the major commendations, recommendations and suggestions that we gathered from your valuable input. I know that schools are looking at these results with the aim of continuing to get better and addressing family needs/barriers.

Your opinions matter to us. I hope you will continue to provide feedback as we navigate this unfamiliar process.

Be Well,

James Erinakes
Superintendent


April 3, 2020 - Fun Request to Our Community

Dear EWG Community Members -

We know these are challenging times for all members of our EWG community. We are proud of the way students, parents, teachers, support staff and administrators have all responded to the challenges head on. Seeing the sense of community our school district brings is heartwarming for all involved. Even when the going has gotten tough, we have pulled together and have proven that we are EWG Strong.

To show our commitment to each other and pride in our community, we are asking for families, faculty and staff to send in pictures of yourselves featuring the hashtag #EWGSTRONG. You can make a sign to hold, digitally add the hashtag or maybe even something more creative! Have fun with this!! All of the photos will be compiled into a video. Though we can’t all be together, we know EWG is one in spirit. Please email your photos by April 9th to stacey_place@ewg.k12.ri.us.

We plan to add #EWGSTRONG to all building sign marquis so you see that message at every school, we are in this together.

Enjoy the weekend. It is well-deserved!

Jim Erinakes
Superintendent


March 30, 2020 - EWG Distance Learning Survey

Now that we have official information from the Governor on the extension of distance learning, we are asking parents to complete this brief survey to gather input on our process. This will be an easy way for our families to help us understand what is going well and what ideas they have for improvement.

https://forms.gle/LmacQSDfkJHRYud18

We appreciate all the communication that we have received from families since we started our distance learning experience last week. This survey is one additional way for us to keep the lines of communication open so we can best support each other.

Sincerely,
Jim Erinakes
Superintendent


March 30, 2020 - Important Updates as we begin Week 2!

Good Afternoon,

Today, the Governor and Commissioner of Education provided the following updates regarding public schools:
• All public schools will continue distance learning until the end of April, at which point the situation will be re-evaluated to determine if it is necessary to extend beyond that date.
• All public schools will be asked to adopt a state-wide calendar that includes professional development/planning days on April 3rd and April 17th, as well as a long weekend with April 9th and April 10th as days off. The 3rd, 9th and 17th will count as school days toward the 180-day school year.
• Although we are in a very good place at this time, the Governor announced some additional state-wide support for helping families to access the internet from their homes. Please reach out to Jeremy Taylor ( jeremy_taylor@ewg.k12.ri.us) with any connection or device issues.
• The Governor announced the April reading challenge, asking all children to read every day for the entire month of April. Resources will be available on the RIDE website, including a place for families to complete a reading log and to upload pictures and videos that may be used to publicize and highlight the progress of our RI students.
• On Thursday, the Governor, along with Commissioner Infante-Green and RIDOH Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott will be holding a special press conference for students. Attached, please find an informational sheet with resources and directions for students who want to send questions in advance of the event. The Governor has asked that teachers spread the word about the event, use the resources as a teaching tool where applicable, and encourage students to be involved. It would be very cool to hear one or more of our students' questions addressed later this week. More information can be found by following this link: https://5il.co/edkj
• RIDE has formally applied for a Federal waiver to all State testing for the 2019-20 school year. All indications are that the waiver will be approved by the USDOE.
• Any children who are experiencing significant anxiety or excessive anger during these challenging times need our support. Kids' Link has established a 24-hour social-emotional-mental health hotline for families in crisis: 1-855-543-5465. Please share this resource as needed. More information can be found by accessing the following link: https://www.lifespan.org/cente...

EWG Updates:

A number of our families, including our own staff, are experiencing hardship as a result of the crisis we face. Parents have lost jobs, they have relatives under stay-at-home orders or in nursing homes that they cannot visit, and many have relatives or friends who have tested positive for the virus. Many of our children are anxious and confused. In this time of tremendous hardship, our priority is to make distance learning a positive experience for all. We are committed to being responsive, flexible, understanding and caring. With all that our community is facing, we want you to know that we are here for you as partners and we will do whatever we can to help you and your children make the best of this extremely difficult situation.

A reminder that we have a breakfast/lunch program underway for any of our EWG families in need. We are able to provide a grab and go service at Metcalf Elementary School , Monday through Friday, from 8-10AM. We also have door-to-door delivery service available. Please reach out to Bob Ross if you would like to be added to our list ( robert_ross@ewg.k12.ri.us).

Now that we have official information from the Governor on the extension of distance learning, we are going to send out a brief parent survey to gather input on our process. This will be an easy way for our families to help us understand what is going well and what ideas they have for improvement. I appreciate all the communication that we have received from families since we started our distance learning experience last week. The soon-to-be-released survey is one additional way for us to keep the lines of communication open so we can best support each other.

On behalf of the entire EWG staff, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for all that you are doing at home to help us effectively deliver the best educational experience possible to your children. I realize that this is a tremendous sacrifice, but your support assures me that we can do this!

I am so proud of the way our community has come together during these challenging times. Please reach out any time with questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Jim Erinakes
Superintendent


March 22, 2020 - A Message from the Superintendent for Families and Students

Good Afternoon,

Tomorrow we will begin implementing our distance learning plan. The entire staff of EWG has worked really hard to put together meaningful and reasonable learning experiences for all of your children. Teachers have already begun to share plans and reach out to families. Additional information will be sent out tomorrow, and regularly thereafter.

Please know, we understand that these are trying times for all of you (and us). Distance learning is uncharted territory for everyone involved. While we have done our absolute best to prepare for everything, we expect that there will be bumps in the road. Hang in there! We want everyone to try their best, and most importantly we want to ensure that lines of communication are consistently open. If there are any issues at all, please reach out. All EWG staff have a plan for ongoing and consistent communication with families. We are here for you, and we are going to work with you to ensure that our children are successful.

Please.... stay calm. No problem is too big for us to resolve together. This is the same message I have shared with our staff. Communicate often, and help us by conveying confidence and positivity with your children... even if you feel frustrated in the moment. We will help you through any anxiety or frustration you may feel.

A few additional reminders:

  • Any family that signed up for a loaner device (computer) who did not pick up at the scheduled times on Friday, Metcalf is open tomorrow for pick up. If you are having difficulty making arrangements for pick up, please email me directly (james_erinakes@ewg.k12.ri.us)
  • Any family still working to get high speed internet access, please direct all questions to our IT Director, Jeremy Taylor (jeremy_taylor@ewg.k12.ri.us)
  • Any questions related to assignments, directions, etc. should be directed to the teacher(s) first, and then principals - all who are on call to support your needs.
  • The Junior and Senior High Schools are opened tomorrow for students who may need to pick up materials left behind. We are limiting the number of individuals in the building at one time, but that was not an issue on Friday when buildings were also opened.
  • Elementary students who might need personal items from the classroom should call the building office first. They will retrieve requested items and provide directions for pick up.
  • All buildings will be completely closed to the public beginning on Tuesday.

Students:

  • It is very important that you stay aware of and follow instructions for public safety that have been consistently shared by our Governor and the Director of the Department of Health. You should not be gathering in groups, and you should stay at home unless there is a critical need for you to be out. You all play a critical role in preventing mass spread of the virus and keeping your loved ones and all fellow Rhode Islanders safe.
  • These days of distance learning count as full school days. They do not need to be made up in the summer. Our success as a district with implementing distance learning will be key in determining whether additional distance learning days will count as full school days. I am expecting and planning for this crisis to extend beyond the next two weeks. It is expected that you will stay engaged, follow all directions and instructions provided by your teachers, communicate with teachers if you are having any difficulty at all, and complete all assigned work to the best of your abilities. We will be available to help you with anything. You need to be available for us to provide that help.
  • If you have any suggestions to support your teachers, please share. Sometimes, teachers will be asking for help from you, particularly with technology issues. I want us to be a learning community that supports each other. Failure is not an option - I know we can do this together.
  • Many high school students have started to ask about the prom, graduation, and other major events. No decisions have been made at this point. We will continue to follow the guidance provided by Federal and State officials. In the event we need to rethink our current plans, we will provide opportunities for students to help us with those decisions.

I am proud of the way our EWG community has come together during these difficult times, and on behalf of the schools, we appreciate your ongoing support.

No worries - we will get through this together.

Stay safe,

James Erinakes
Superintendent


March 18, 2020 - School Closure - Update

Good Afternoon,

The Governor of RI made the announcement today at her daily press conference that schools will remain closed for an additional 2 weeks (3/23/20-4/3/20), and that all public schools will implement their distance learning plans during that time. These days will be regular school days, and will count toward our 180-day requirement. When asked about schooling beyond that timeframe, the Governor indicated that it is "unlikely" students will be able to return, but decisions would be made based on the success of distance learning and the status of the state/national crisis.

Please be on the lookout for additional information from your school administrators and classroom teachers now that the Governor has made her official announcement.

I am also including some additional information and resources:

Free mental health consultation/services: www.bhlink.org, or call the 24-hour hotline at 401-414-LINK

Please remember that our situation is serious, and the aggressive steps taken by RI officials are designed to limit spread of the virus, particularly to the most vulnerable populations. It is critical that we all follow the advice of our experts.

Students, the next two weeks (minimally) are school days. It is important that you do your part to show every other state in the union that this is possible. Communicate with your teachers, try your best, and help us to do better in addressing your needs.

Again, I know this presents many challenges for all of us. We are committed to working with you and supporting your family through this crisis.

Sincerely,

James Erinakes
Superintendent


March 17, 2020 - COVID-19 Update

Good Evening,

I am writing at this time to provide updates on our current situation. As you know, all schools in RI are closed based on the Governor's order from last Friday. Although we have been following the situation closely and we all understood the seriousness of what is happening across the globe, Friday's announcement came as a surprise to all of us. This week we are officially on Spring break, meaning that the week previously scheduled as our April vacation is now considered a normal school week.

If you have been following the daily updates from RI officials, you know that a decision on RI schools is expected tomorrow. In the meantime, all districts have been asked to finalize and submit a distance learning plan to RIDE so that we are prepared to deliver instruction to our children remotely in the event of an extended closing. Although my words are not an official statement, I am expecting the Governor to announce that schools will remain closed beyond this week and we will be required to implement our distance learning plans.

I am well aware of the difficulty that we are all facing trying to manage changes to our routines that we probably never dreamed were possible. The situation we are facing is serious, and it appears that we are in it for an extended period of time. Exeter-West Greenwich schools are committed to working with all of our families and children to do our part to help you through this difficult time.

Our district has completed our distance learning plan, which has already been submitted to RIDE and shared with all administrators and teachers. Our incredible staff - all of them - have been working to support each other, sharing lesson ideas and resources, and expanding their own knowledge of technology tools to best support remote learning for children at all grade levels, where appropriate. In the event the announcement from the Governor confirms an extended closing, we will be ready to go. This will be a new and unfamiliar road ahead for all of us, teachers and staff included, so there may be bumps in the road. Through open communication and collaborative problem solving, we will figure this out together.

Pending the formal announcement tomorrow, schools are prepared to share specific details with families and students about expectations, directions for accessing assignments and receiving teacher support, and any other details that they need to share. Here are a few additional important announcements that all should be aware of:

  • For some students, particularly our youngest, hard copies of materials will be available for parents to pick up (like a drive through service) at designated times beginning as early as this Friday. Principals will share information as it is finalized. Although we absolutely appreciate as many parents as possible to help us by coming to the school during these designated times to pick up materials, we realize this might be impossible for some of our families. If that is the case, we have arranged for drop off of these materials at your door (likely on Monday, 3/23). Again, details on this service will be shared as they are finalized.
  • Last week, we sent out a survey about technology access to all of our elementary parents. The response rate has been outstanding - thank you! If you did not respond, you will be contacted by a staff member directly so that we have accurate information to assist us in preparing loaner devices as needed. Devices will be available through our drive through service, or through our drop off service, consistent with bullet one above.
  • Any families who indicated that they had devices available for students to use on the survey who have reconsidered and would feel more comfortable being issued a device for their child to use should let us know immediately. Each child in the household should have a device to use. Please email Jeremy Taylor (jeremy_taylor@ewg.k12.ri.us) and provide relevant information so we can assist you.
  • According to our survey results, there are a small number of families who do not have high speed internet access at home. We will work with families to find solutions to get high speed internet access to their homes. There are several program(s) that are being offered by some major service providers to facilitate this.
  • We have been working with our food service provider to offer breakfast/lunch during school closure periods to families who are eligible for free or reduced price meals. These meals will be available for pick up during specified hours each day. Again, if there are families who need this service, but require the drop off service - this can be arranged. Any family who is experiencing financial hardship, including those of you who have been very recently impacted by the current health crisis, PLEASE fill out an application for free or reduced price meals so that we can help you. You may e-mail Maureen Abarr (maureen_abarr@ewg.k12.ri.us), who manages this process for our entire district.
  • If any questions or concerns arise, please e-mail your child's teacher and then your building administrator for immediate assistance. Administrators will communicate with me as needed to address individual concerns.
  • All students/families can expect daly check-ins from one or more staff members. This may be done virtually, through email or via telephone. Guidance Counselors, Psychologists, and Social Workers will be on call and will be in regular contact with students on their case loads. Guidance counselors will conduct remote meetings with students to continue the course selection or college application processes. IEP meetings will be scheduled remotely as necessary. In short, we have thought of (hopefully) everything!

I will continue to communicate new information as it becomes available. If in fact tomorrow's announcement is what I expect it to be, you will begin hearing from your child's school/teachers with additional details.

Again, I want to thank the EWG teachers, administrators and staff for all they continue to do - during their "vacation" - to prepare for the upcoming week(s). They have been incredible, and have served as a model for what community truly means. I am proud to be a part of their team.

Below, please find some information and additional resources shared by one of our school nurse teachers.

Stay safe,

James Erinakes
Superintendent

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Special Edition: COVID-19

Dear friends and partners- Over the past few days we’ve all come to an understanding of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 crisis and the impact it’s having in Rhode Island, the country and the world. As we become better informed on how the virus spreads and the importance of “social distancing”, we need to recognize the important role each and every one of us, even the young and healthy, has to play and the responsibility we all have to heed the advice of our governor and the CDC, for the sake of EVERYONE in our community. We want to acknowledge and thank our state leaders, especially Governor Raimondo, Dept. of Health Director Alexander-Scott and Education Commissioner Infante-Greene, and their staffs for working tirelessly to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 (this particular strain of COronaVIrus Disease, which first showed up in 2019) and for developing plans for a possible extended period of school closure. School administrators, educators and food service staff are also committed to the health and welfare of all students and the larger school community. Plans are being finalized to provide food in communities where many students rely on school meals. See below for the details as we have them today. Here are a number of helpful resources we’ve collected from some of our community partners and online. COVID-19 UPDATES, INFORMATION & RESOURCES: SCHOOL MEALS AVAILABILITY: REMOTE LEARNING RESOURCES: Each RI school and district will have their own remote learning plans; these free resources may assist in planning or be useful as practice or extra learning activities. "AT HOME" ACTIVITIES: Above all, take all necessary precautions during this crazy, uncertain time and STAY SAFE!
Many thanks to our supporters: Visit their websites: BCBSRI | RIDE CNP | RIDOH | CVS Health
Contact us: kelly.swanson@rihsc.org RI Healthy Schools Coalition connects the RI school community, providing direct support for district school wellness work to create and sustain healthy school environments for all children. www.rihsc.org If you're not a subscriber, subscribe HERE to receive eNews directly to your inbox!



March 16, 2020 - Lunches for EWG Students - FREE

The West Greenwich Fire Department, located at 830 Nooseneck Hill Rd, West Greenwich (just up the street from the JSHS and almost across the street from Lineham School), has prepared lunches for EWG families for this first week of school closing.

Families may stop by to pick up FREE meals for their children between the hours of 8 AM and 10 AM daily. Please, take advantage of this very generous offer from one of our community partners.


March 11, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates

Good Evening,

Today, I met with a team from the RI Department of Education and also participated in a weekly conference call with the RI Department of Health to receive updates on new and recurring recommendations for schools related to COVID-19. I have also been in contact with local EMA Directors, watched the 4:00 press conference/briefing from RIDOH, and read through all new guidance posted on the RIDOH website. As promised, I am sending along a summary of all relevant information.

At this point, RI does not have evidence of community spread of the virus. Any actions by the Department of Health, the Department of Education, and the Governor's office have been taken to help prevent and contain the spread of the virus.

Universal precautions (hand washing, proper etiquette when sneezing or coughing, cleaning/sanitizing of high-touch areas, and remaining at home if flu-like symptoms exist) remain a top priority. Our maintenance/custodial staff and bus company have and will continue to do an exceptional job keeping up with this important requirement.

Families who have traveled should report that information to your school administrator before returning to school, particularly if travel has been to any of the countries identified by the CDC as a risk zone. Any individual who has traveled and develops flu-like symptoms must contact their primary care physician, disclose travel history, and report any symptoms before going to the doctor's office. School administrators have been conferring with my office on all families who have traveled to ensure that we are taking all necessary precautionary steps to ensure everyone's safety.

School closures have been limited to those buildings that have confirmed cases of COVID-19, or where there has been contact with individuals who have been exposed to the virus. RIDOH has indicated that there is "no intention" to implement mass school closings as a preventative measure at this time. School closures will be handled on a case by case basis, as needed, and in cooperation with local officials, RIDOH and RIDE.

School districts have been encouraged to develop and submit to RIDE plans for virtual/at-home learning in the event that school closure becomes a necessity. EWG has a plan that will be submitted to the Department of Education for review by Friday (3/13/2020). Information will be shared with all staff, and then families, on this plan so that we are ready to implement an off-campus learning environment in the event it becomes necessary. Note - this is a preparation step only, not a necessary action at this time.

Elementary families will be surveyed to determine whether students have access to the internet and a computer at home. Part of our plan, should it need to be implemented, includes device loaning from the school as necessary. Please help us by responding to this survey in a timely manner (1 minute of your time!)

New guidance on large gatherings:

Schools are not to schedule events that will draw crowds of 250 or more. Community members have been advised not to attend events that will draw crowds of 250 or more. "This recommendation is specific to organized events at which people will be concentrated for sustained periods of time, such as parties, sporting events, and parades."

"This recommendation (above) does not pertain to the normal school day for students and to workplaces, as long as 250 or more people are not closely concentrated (within 6 feet of each other) for sustained periods of time."

For smaller events, attendees are advised to follow universal precautions (maintain physical distance as much as possible (6 feet), hand washing, sanitizing high touch areas, remain home if flu-like symptoms exist).

Avoid scheduling events that will draw large numbers of older adults. The Center for Disease Control recommends cancelling any events that will draw 10 or more people from high-risk populations (including older adults).

Exeter-West Greenwich actions on light of these new recommendations:

Any event that will draw large crowds of 250 people or more is/will be cancelled.

Smaller events designed for the public will be reviewed on a case by case basis, and will be cancelled if there is a reasonable alternative to requiring in-person attendance or if the event is determined not to be necessary to achieve the major goals of our school community.

In the event that smaller events remain scheduled, we will encourage universal precautions, including social distancing (6 feet apart), good hygiene, and remaining home if symptoms exist.

All student gatherings and/or assemblies during school shall be limited to one grade at a time, maximum. This will ensure that we will never have more than approximately 125 students together at a time.

Sporting events will be monitored for crowd size. We will address spring sports, many of which are held outside, in the next couple of weeks.

Field trips where large numbers of people will gather will be canceled or postponed.

Continue to check the CDC website for updated guidance. The RIDOH has been providing constant communication and guidance to schools and is available to us for any questions we have. If anyone has a question, please call the RIDOH (401-222-8022) or visit their website: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/

Please contact your school administrator, or my office, with any questions. Also, look for additional updates as they become necessary based on updated guidance from RIDOH, RIDE and/or the Governor's office.

Thank you for your continued support,

James Erinakes
Superintendent


March 5, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates

Good Afternoon,

Here is a bulleted list of updated information from the last briefing with the Department of Health relative to the Coronavirus (COVID-19):

All confirmed cases of COVID-19 can be traced back to a school trip from St. Rafael's Academy in late February. One case that was being monitored resulted in the closing of Achievement First Academy in Providence. The results of testing for that individual came back negative and Achievement First has since been re-opened.

Testing for the case that resulted in the early closing of a school in East Greenwich was returned as negative.

The Department of Health remains directly involved with any individuals who continue to be monitored.

Rhode Island has not experienced community spreading of the virus.

Any decisions to close schools, in the event it may be needed, must be done in consultation with the RI Department of Health.

A hotline has been established at the RI Department of Health for the general public to address questions or concerns: 401-222-8022

All are encouraged to continue to adhere to best practices (Universal Precautions) to prevent the spread of germs.

Student athletes, particularly those involved in sports with close physical contact, must take additional precautionary steps to avoid the spread of germs: No sharing of water bottles, no sharing of towels, avoid physical contact when not necessary (such as shaking hands at the end of a game), and avoid practices or games when sick. There shall be no penalties for athletes who remain out of practice of game play to adhere to this RIDOH guidance.

If any individual is experiencing symptoms, contact your Health Care Provider first before going directly to the office. Health Care Providers are also working directly with the Ri Department of Health.

Do not go to your Health Care Provider simply to get an absence note. Communicate the reason for absence directly to school personnel/supervisors. Only in specific cases will a doctor's note be required (For example, those who are chronically absent or those who are involved in truancy courts).

The RI situation continues to evolve, and I will convey any new information as it becomes available.

James Erinakes
Superintendent


March 3, 2020 - COVID-19 Update

Good Afternoon,

Here is the most current information provided to us by the RI Department of Health (RIDOH) and the RI Department of Education (RIDE) related to the COVID-19 virus. Much of the information contained in this briefing only reiterates what I have previously communicated through my office.

RI DOH Coronavirus

RI DOH Coronavirus en español

In addition, I have a bit more information to share:

  • The district remains in constant communication with RIDOH, which includes regularly scheduled conference calls facilitated by the department's director, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott.
  • Local emergency response directors have maintained communication with the school department and our transportation providers. In fact, our transportation personnel met today with E. Stefan Coutelakis of the Exeter EMA for updates related to emergency response planning.
  • Our local transportation provider is taking preventative, precautionary steps between each run which includes additional sanitizing to prevent the spread of germs.
  • You may have heard of an early closing in East Greenwich today at one of their elementary schools. Note that the closing is not due to any student or staff member of the school exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The decision to release students early was made out of an abundance of caution based on symptoms of a family member to one of the enrolled students, and will allow school maintenance personnel to take additional cleaning and sanitizing steps to prevent the spread of germs. East Greenwich and the family in question are working directly with the RIDOH, who will determine if any additional precautionary steps are necessary.

At this point in time, we have no cause for alarm in Exeter-West Greenwich. We are following all recommended protocols consistent with the attached communication from RIDOH and RIDE. We will communicate directly with RIDOH and provide immediate information to families in the event that our circumstances change.

Sincerely,

James Erinakes
Superintendent of Schools