Dear North Smithfield Families and Staff,
Before we enter the uncharted waters next week and beyond, I want to share a timeline and extend my thanks and appreciation to everyone
North Smithfield has been ready for this for a long time.
Four years ago North Smithfield Schools began to refine our infrastructure, increase investments in educational technology, expand and streamline our resources, services, and applications, and focus our professional development to support Any Time, Any Place, Any Path, Any Pace Learning
Two years ago North Smithfield Schools submitted an application along with comprehensive virtual instruction plans to the Rhode Island Department of Education in support of new legislation to offset snow days. We rescinded that application when it became apparent the Department of Education was not ready to approve any plans. However it did not change the fact that North Smithfield was ready.
On Tuesday, in anticipation of a possible school closing, we re-opened our plan from two years ago and revised to accommodate emergency school closures for an extended amount of time. North Smithfield was ready.
On Wednesday, our principals met with our department heads, team leaders, grade-level leaders and teachers to notify them to start ramping up for virtual learning possibilities.
On Thursday, the Commissioner of Education sent an email to superintendents to submit virtual and distant learning plans by the following Friday. We did not wait a week. An hour later, North Smithfield submitted a comprehensive 30 page plan..
At 12:30pm on Friday during an emergency conference call with the Rhode Island Department of Health, we learned the Governor was going to announce schools are to close starting Monday. The purpose of the closure was to limit exposure to the Coronavirus and allow districts time to work on virtual instruction plans if school closures needed to be extended.
By 1:00pm on Friday, as the rest of the State was learning of the imminent school closure, North Smithfield teachers had already prepared learning packets, issued students additional textbooks and workbooks, and distributed additional chromebooks to send home with our students at the end of the day. These physical materials will supplement the extensive online systems and services that our teachers and students have been using routinely over many years.
North Smithfield was, is, and will be ready if needed.
Thank you’s and recognitions
I want to expand on my early thank you’s to our custodial staff for their diligent cleaning and disinfecting, and to our nurses for their knowledge, practice, and support of our students and families.
Additional thanks goes out to Clare Arnold and Tracey Nangle and the dozens of teachers who developed our original Virtual Learning Application and plans.
Thank you to our Technology Department who, even though many of our Chromebooks are now over 5 years old and in desperate need of replacing, have kept our equipment, networking, communications, and technical infrastructure finely tuned and at the ready.
I thank our School Committee who have done so much to improve student learning opportunities, expand access, and made 1:1 computing a reality by continuously advocating for our students and helping to hold onto funds to push our programs and plans forward.
I thank our principals and teachers for the work they did to prepare our schools for closure even before we knew we would close.
I want to give special thanks and recognition to our senior employees, especially those teachers, instructional assistants, administrative assistants, and custodians whose long careers and age places them in a higher risk category yet they still came to work everyday to teach, support our students, run our offices, and clean and disinfect our classrooms. Your dedication to North Smithfield and our students is exemplary.
And finally I thank our students and parents and the community of North Smithfield. Even as anxiety around COVID-19 increased every day, there remained a sense cooperation and community even as it became increasingly difficult to hold onto the calm.
We will see where the coming weeks take us, but I am confident that North Smithfield will be okay due to our combined talents, capacity, and mutual support.
Michael St. Jean,
North Smithfield School Department
P.O. Box 72
Slatersville, RI 02876
P: (401) 769-5492 F: (401) 769-5493
Michael St. Jean, Superintendent
North Smithfield Middle School - Room 137
1850 Providence Pike
North Smithfield, RI 02896