Protecting Our Classrooms

Mar 12, 2021

This week we were excited to hear the news that our school communities have been waiting for: Rhode Island has begun vaccinating our educators this month. Governor McKee’s goal is to ensure that over the next few weeks, all school staff in Rhode Island—from teachers to administrative staff to maintenance staff to principals—will have received their first shot. Our municipal leaders are working hand-in-hand with our LEA and school leaders to distribute these vaccines quickly and efficiently. Each school community has developed their own plan to meet their unique needs. Together, with the support of Governor McKee’s office, the Rhode Island Department of Health and our school leaders, we are ready to get this done.

This week also marks an important milestone in providing our students with the high-quality education they deserve despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was one year ago that we made the difficult decision to close our schools and begin distance learning. Since that day, we have been singularly focused on protecting the health and well-being of our educators, students, and families. Over this past year, we have innovated and collaborated with district and school leaders on safety initiatives like improved ventilation and school-based testing. This push to vaccinate our educators is a crucial next step and additional protection of the learning environment in our schools.

It’s because of the hard work of Rhode Island’s school leaders, teachers, students, and families that we have been able to deliver a high-quality education to our students throughout the year. We are eternally grateful for your continued support and efforts on behalf of the children, and we are glad that we can provide you with this important defense against COVID-19 so that you can continue to do so.

Thank you again for your efforts and your constant collaboration in support of our schools and students.

Angélica

From the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE)

2. Share Amazing Stories from your Classroom, School or Education Community!

RIDE is asking the entire RI education community to share amazing, heartfelt and uplifting stories to be featured in a number of upcoming RIDE initiatives. We want to share and highlight stories from the classroom that can have a profound positive impact on the rest of our education community. Whether it’s through a story, photo, video or any other creative medium of your choice, we’d love to hear from you. Please email all submissions to fieldmemo@ride.ri.gov.

World Class Talent

3. RIDE Seeking Recommendations for Rhode Island Educator- Leader Talent Pool

RIDE maintains a file of distinguished teachers and principals. Throughout the year, these educators may be considered for leadership opportunities such as membership on advisory boards and task forces, as well as state and national recognition programs. RIDE is requesting that each district recommend up to 2-3 nominees who are relatively new to the profession (5-12 years), demonstrate strong leadership skills, instructional practices and have impact on students, colleagues, and the community.

To recommend an educator please complete the LEA Recommendation Form by Friday, April 2, 2021. Questions can be directed to Mary Keenan at mary.keenan@ride.ri.gov.

4. No Cost Professional Learning Options

RIDE is committed to helping our schools and educators strengthen their practices through professional learning. As such, RIDE has updated its list of no-cost professional learning options to support the selection of a variety of synchronous and asynchronous professional learning sessions available for the upcoming state-wide Professional Development Day on March 15th.  We hope these offerings can enhance opportunities for educators, administrators, and staff to engage in professional learning in a variety of areas, including health & wellness, instructional practices, social-emotional learning, and more. We encourage LEAs and educators to revisit this list frequently for continued updates and to share this list with other educators.

Please email PL@ride.ri.gov for any professional learning with any questions.

5. Great Teachers in Action

The RIDE Educator Recognition Program and Highlander Institute have developed a yearlong educator professional development series called Great Teachers in Action (GTA). Rhode Island has a wealth of talented educators who are leaders within their districts, content areas, and or grade span. RIDE’s goal is to utilize the skills and expertise of RI educators to provide opportunities for educators to collaborate and learn from and with one another. The GTA Professional Learning sessions enable RI educators to collaborate, watch and debrief model lessons, and access resources. The professional learning sessions have been offered on the statewide professional learning days, with the fourth sessions being offered on March 15, 2021.

To learn more about the presenters, topics, and to register for a PL session, please visit the RIDE Professional Learning Page.

Excellence in Learning

6. All Course Network (ACN) RFP for Summer 2021 and School Year 2021-2022 Courses now Live

The ACN is a RIDE initiative that allows students to take advantage of supplemental coursework outside of the traditional school day at no cost to a district or student. There are different types of courses available on the ACN: Enrichment, Work-based learning, Dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, and Career Credential courses. All public school students (K-12) in Rhode Island can participate in these opportunities. RIDE is currently seeking provider proposals to offer courses on the ACN for Summer 2021 and School Year 2021-2022. The RFP and application are now live on RIDE’s website and will be due by 5pm EST on April 7th. Multiple Technical Assistance (TA) sessions will be offered during the month of March. Additional information about the RFP process and TA sessions can be found online, and questions about the ACN can be directed to acn@ride.ri.gov.

7. Rhode Island transitions to the Rhode Island Core Standards for ELA/Literacy and Mathematics from the Common Core State Standards

Following a period of review and public comment, RIDE is pleased to announce the endorsement by the Council o​n Elementary and Secondary Education of new content standards for ELA/Literacy and Mathematics. The Rhode Island Core Standards for ELA/Literacy and Mathematics are directly aligned with the expectations set forth in the Rhode Island comprehensive assessment system of which the RICAS assessment is an integral part.

The Rhode Island Core Standards maintain the levels of focus, coherence, rigor, and overall content expectations of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). However, there are some instances in which the new standards enhance or clarify the content of the CCSS. Users of high-quality curriculum materials can be assured their resources are still aligned with the expectations of the Rhode Island Core Standards, but there may be a need for minor adjustments within or across grade levels.

To assist users in making these adjustments, RIDE has created crosswalk documents highlighting the instances where expectations differ between the Rhode Island Core Standards and the CCSS.

The new standards and the crosswalk documents can be found at Content Standards – Instruction & Assessment – RI Department of Education.

8. RIDE Grants an Extension for the CTE Accelegrants Amendment Process

Please be advised that RIDE will grant an extension for the Perkins V 2021 amendment process that was originally from March 1 through March 10. The new deadline to submit all amendments is Friday, March 19, 2021. LEAs must apply for their re-allocated 2020 Perkins funds (i.e., 2020 carryover) during this window of time. Amendments are made within the Accelegrants system by district CTE personnel. LEAs are urged to contact RIDE at CTE@ride.ri.gov for any questions or issues with this process.

9. Upcoming Field Feedback Meetings for the CTE Community

In order to understand the field’s perspective on the best way to operationalize the requirements of Perkins V, RIDE is hosting a series of Field Feedback meetings to take place in March and April. The remaining topics for the sessions will include: Perkins formula funds, CTE Program Audits, and Technical Assistance. Please check the RIDE website here for specific dates, times, and Zoom details.

10. RIDE Posts Additional CTE Spotlights

RIDE is continuing to celebrate the achievements of CTE programs across Rhode Island. Building on last week’s installment, we are excited to spotlight two more initiatives.

The first is the Studio Art CTE program at South Kingstown High School. In partnership with the local community, students in this program have had multiple opportunities to display their artwork in public spaces and participate in gallery exhibitions.

The second is the International Business CTE Program at Lincoln High School. Here, students from Mr. Costa’s class marketing class are engaged in both local and international real-world work-based learning opportunities.

Please read and learn more about these exciting initiatives as well as ones previously posted.

11. CS4RI: Coding as Another Language (K-2) Grant Application Released

As part of RIDE’s continued support for the implementation of high-quality K-12 computer science programming, CS4RI is requesting Coding as Another Language (K-2) Grant applications from RI public elementary schools to support the integration of a K-2 computer science curriculum into core content areas. This grant opportunity includes professional development, technology equipment, and K-2 CS curriculum. Applications are due April 9, 2021.

This project is funded by a research grant from the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University. The Coding as Another Language (CAL) curriculum integrates computational thinking and learning to code with ScratchJr, the first programming language explicitly designed for children 5-7, both screen and unplugged activities, and integration with math and literacy skills. Research will be a collaborative process that involves classroom observations, consultation with experts, and focus groups and interviews. The CAL curriculum engages young children in developing computational thinking, problem solving, and collaboration skills while learning how to create their own interactive projects by programming with ScratchJr. Select educators from awarded schools have the opportunity to earn an Early Childhood in Tech graduate certificate from Tufts University at no cost to the educator.

A main focus for the Coding as Another Language (K-2) Grants is implementing and broadening participation in high-quality, in-depth CS education in RI elementary schools. Priority will be given to schools demonstrating need through Title I eligibility, however, all elementary schools are encouraged to apply. More information and application materials can be downloaded from the CS4RI website.

12. CS4RI: Coding as Another Language (K-2) Grant Application Released

The first Honors Colloquium district network meeting of the year and our first ever virtual meeting will be held on March 23, 2021 from 9:00- 11:30 a.m. via Zoom. We are pleased to announce that national curriculum and instruction organizations UnboundEd, Achievement Network, and SchoolKit will headline this event.

We extended the timeframe by a half hour to ensure that you have ample time to hear from the featured experts and engage in a series of interactive mini-sessions focused on a range of topics that promote equitable instruction for all students in the aftermath of a global pandemic. Our goal is to empower and inspire schools and districts to leverage high-quality materials in planning for accelerated instruction this spring and into the fall of next year.

RIDE encourages superintendents, assistant superintendents, and a district team (including a special education director, an English learner director, and a union leader/other teacher leader) to attend

We hope to see you there. Please register for the meeting as soon as possible. Please contact the Curriculum Team at curriculum@ride.ri.gov if you have questions.

Engaged Communities

13. March PrepareRI Webinar: School Counseling

The PrepareRI Ambassador Team is excited to announce the launch of monthly webinarsThese webinars are intended to increase awareness about the amazing opportunities available to best support students’ college and career pathways through PrepareRI. This months’ webinar will focus on School Counseling and is scheduled for Wednesday, March 24 from 5 to 6 p.m.

You can register online. If you have questions about the monthly webinar series, please contact Wendy Wallace at wendy.wallace@ride.ri.gov.

14. SurveyWorks Update

Congratulations to Rhode Island’s 90-90 club! These schools have 90% SurveyWorks Response Rates for both the student and teacher surveys! Let’s keep going. We’ve heard from 83,000 of our school community but we need to hear from everyone. Here you can view updated response rates for all schools. The survey is open until March 31st. Please contact us at surveyworks@ride.ri.gov if we can help in any way!

15. FAFSA Update – 49.58% FAFSA Completion Statewide as of 3/5/21

This week Rhode Island is at 49.58% completion. We have set a goal of 70% completion statewide, at every high school. It is not too late for students to complete their FAFSA!! This is a critical step to ensure that all students have a chance at financial support for their postsecondary education plans. Rhode Island is currently ranked 7th nationwide for FAFSA completion, and there are many resources available to support students and families complete the process this year:

  • College Planning Center (CPC): CPC offers support for any family in Rhode Island in completing the FAFSA. To schedule an appointment with the College Planning Center email scrooks@cpcri.org, call 401-736-3170, Text “FAFSA” to 24000, or go to CollegePlanningCenter.org. Districts are encouraged to reach out directly to the College Planning Center to help support their completion efforts.
  • Statewide FAFSA Initiative: There are multiple resources included in the statewide FAFSA initiative, including the FAFSA completion dashboardFAFSA Portal, and the FAFSA toolkit (available in Portuguese and Spanish). Additionally, there are recorded financial aid forums with the College Planning Center available at www.prepare-ri.org/fafsa.
  • FAFSA Toolkit: Schools can help support completion efforts by reaching out to families with a reminder and sending out the FAFSA Toolkit to help them complete the required forms. It is more important than ever before!

Commissioner’s Decisions

16. 18-108K DECISION AND ORDER

Petition by state child welfare agency to designate Respondent School Department as having financial responsibility for a child placed in a residential treatment facility that provided educational services is denied as the agency failed to establish: (a) that R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-64-1.1(c) was applicable or alternatively, (b) that the child’s parents’ “last known Rhode Island residence” was located in the relevant school district; or (c) that it had made reasonable efforts to determine the location of said residence. Please view the full decision here.

17. 19-045A FINAL DECISION AND ORDER

Motion of state child welfare agency to reopen the evidentiary record is denied and the Commissioner’s prior order denying the agency’s petition for interim and final orders to compel one of two respondent school districts to accept financial responsibility for a student placed in an out-of-state residential treatment facility that provided educational services is affirmed as the agency made neither a specific offer of proof describing the additional evidence that allegedly established the last known residence in the state of the student’s mother, nor made any effort to explain why the “extensive search” that led to the evidence had not been conducted prior to filing its initial petition, or at least prior to the two evidentiary hearings that had been conducted. Please view the full decision here.

From Other State Agencies

18. Vaccine Outreach: Community Partner Activation

The RI Department of Health has been engaged in on-going communications efforts across the state to increase vaccine education, reduce hesitancy, encourage testing and reiterate the importance of continuing community mitigation practices (mask wearing, hand washing, etc.) even if you’ve been vaccinated.

School administrators, teachers, and staff are some of the most influential and trusted members of our RI communities and we are thrilled they are getting vaccinated. As we continue our social media outreach efforts, we invite you to join us in helping to share the importance of getting vaccinated with your communities and individual social media followings.

Here’s how you can help us get our communities vaccinated and #CrushCovidRI:

  • Ask your teachers and staff to share a post to district, school or personal social media pages before the end of the month about why they’re choosing to get vaccinated AND use the #CrushCovidRI.
  • Implement one of RIDOH’s Facebook profile frames. More instructions can be found in the RIDOH vaccine social media brief.

From Outside Organizations

19. AmeriCorps Request for Information

Do you have an idea for how AmeriCorps service can be a strategy to meet a community need? ServeRI with the Rhode Island Department of Education invites Local Education Agencies, higher education institutions, and nonprofit organizations to respond to a Request for Information by submitting your project idea. ServeRI expects to award more than $4 million in AmeriCorps funding over the next three years.

ServeRI has published this Request for Information to address Rhode Island’s recovery from COVID-19 and recommendations from the Rhode Island Department of Education LEAP Task Force to support K-12 student achievement, attendance, social emotional learning, and equity. Additional priorities and information about AmeriCorps can be found in the Notice of Request for Information.

20. Join the Serve-RI Commission Leadership

ServeRI seeks leaders who believe volunteer service is a strategy to meet community needs and to support Rhode Islanders on their path to leadership, education, and careers. Please complete a self-nomination form to be considered for appointment to the governing body of ServeRI, Rhode Island’s Commission for National and Community Service. Nomination Forms are requested by Friday, April 16, 2021.

Additional information about the responsibilities and needs of the ServeRI Commission Board can be found on the ServeRI website. Among its needs, ServeRI is seeking individuals age 16-25 with volunteer experience and professionals with communications, grantmaking, and training experience.

21. K-12 World Language Grant Application

The World Language Advancement and Readiness Grants Program is now accepting applications! The deadline to apply is May 7, 2021. The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) seeks innovative applications for the establishment, improvement, or expansion of world language programs targeting elementary and secondary students in order to enable successful students, as they advance from elementary school through secondary school, to achieve advanced level of proficiency in those languages. Each individual grant award will be a minimum of $500,000.00 and may be up to a maximum of $3,000,000, for a period of up to five (5) years.

22. Barnes & Noble My Favorite Teacher Contest

The 2021 My Favorite Teacher contest will run the entire month of March from 3/1 to 3/31. The winning teacher will receive $5,000 for themselves and $5,000 for their school, and the student who writes the winning entry will receive a $500 Barnes & Noble gift card! To enter and see official rules, please visit the Barnes & Noble website.

23. Online/On Demand NAMI Basics

NAMI Basics is a class for parents, guardians and other family caregivers who provide care for youth (age 22 or younger) who are experiencing mental health symptoms. Learn on-line at your own pace. Visit the NAMI website for more information.

24. Presentations for Schools Offered by RI chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness

Inside Mental Illness is an hour long presentation for high school and college students. Inside Mental Illness brings people who are successfully living with mental illness into schools to share their stories and explore the myths about mental illness, while offering an introduction to most common mental illnesses and suicide. The program engages students in active discussion about the impact of stigma. The heart of this program lies in the sharing of presenters’ personal stories without shame or embarrassment. To schedule a free presentation, call 401-331-3060 or email penny@namirhodeisland.org.

25. NAMI Ending the Silence

NAMI Ending the Silence is a presentation designed for middle and high school students, school staff, and parents/guardians of middle or high school youth. Audiences learn about the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, how to recognize the early warning signs and the importance of acknowledging those warning signs. To schedule a free presentation, call 401-331-3060 or email penny@namirhodeisland.org.

26. Free Face Masks for Educators from the RI Council for the Humanities

As the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out and we begin to return to in-person gatherings, wearing a mask is still an important step for public health. The Humanities Council staff and board continue to be inspired and humbled by the dedication of Rhode Island’s educators to ensure students have access to resources in safe, stimulating environments. Through the end of March 2021, all Rhode Island educators K-12 and those working in higher education are eligible for a free face mask from the Humanities Council while supplies last.

Please fill out this form to request a maskQuestions? Contact Rachael Jeffers, Associate Director of Engagement at rachael@rihumanities.org.