Dear North Smithfield Families and Staff,
As we go into the final day of “April Vacation” and start Distance Learning on Monday, I want to extend to the community several assurances:
North Smithfield is expanding its "grab and go" school lunch offering beyond students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch. We will now include any North Smithfield student whose family can use extra assistance.
To help us determine how many lunches to make, please fill in the linked form at https://forms.gle/Bra3dB5MvjDnKQXY7. All information will be kept confidential. The form also includes pickup times and alternate locations.
Our Distance Learning Page is at http://nsps.us/dl and it contains learning resources, information, and technical support. We will continue to add to the resources and information on this page.
Distance Learning will be a new experience for many of us, at least to this extent. However, North Smithfield teachers and students are in a good position to make this transition. After the initial adjustment and practice period, I fully anticipate some creative and amazingly cool teaching and learning to happen.
We do understand that flexibility is required and we are not expecting students to be placed in front of a computer for 7 hours straight plus homework. We understand that parents may also be working from home, older students may be caring for younger brothers and sisters, and many of our students may not even be in their own homes during the day as grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors are called on for childcare. We get this, especially as many of our teachers will also be working from home and assisting their own children with Distance Learning while they work with your children. This is a unique situation for everyone and collectively we will make it work.
While I am not as concerned about delivering instruction via Distance Learning (because our teachers and students will be brilliant), I am concerned about supporting our student’s social/emotional well being. To that end, we have asked our School Counselors, Social Workers, and Psychologists to monitor our students, to be in constant contact with our teachers, to reach out and support, and be available to any student who needs assistance.
During distance learning, we are going to try and maintain our community connections. Some students may feel socially or emotionally isolated while they are maintaining physical distance. Fortunately we have good people who are available to talk, to email, or to conference with our students. On our Distance Learning Page at http://www.nsps.us/dl we have posted a social/emotional support letter from our specialists with additional contacts and resources for families.
While our special educators will be working collaboratively with our grade level and content area teachers, our case managers and instructional assistants will be reaching out to students and families to offer support and academic assistance. Please be advised that service delivery will look very different during Distance Learning, but our ultimate goal is the same; to have our students continue to meet with success. We will have to be very creative, but I am confident that we will work out the means to continue support and services.
Finally, I’d like to ask for everyone’s patience, understanding, and cooperation in the coming weeks, but I also firmly believe that we are going to have some great educational experiences.
Michael St. Jean,