JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — With more schools in Rhode Island making the switch to distance learning for the remainder of the year, learning centers statewide have seen an enrollment increase.
Charlene Barbieri opened Little Learners in Johnston back in 1992. She then opened another location three years ago in Cranston, and the most recent in Warwick this fall.
She said that Little Learners has seen a 25% increase in enrollment this year. Each learning center classroom is equipped with a certified teacher to help students from kindergarten up to 5th grade.
“Every child does receive a piece of technology, or brings in their own chrome book, and they have learning stations,” Barbieri said.
Barbieri said that Little Learners had to close in March because of the pandemic, but was allowed to re-open in June.
Since then, she said there has been only one positive coronavirus case that was discovered two weeks ago.
“We closed down that classroom immediately, worked with the Department of Health and our families to make sure we had a good grasp on controlling the situation,” Barbieri said.
Barbieri also works as an administrator for Cranston Public Schools at the district’s early childhood center. She believes that schools did everything they could to stay open for in-person learning, but she sympathizes with parents who can’t work from home and are overwhelmed with the financial burden of childcare.
“We really try to be flexible with our families and always try to meet them in the middle,” Barbieri said.
When parents come to her with concerns about how the global pandemic will affect their children, she tells them to stay positive. When it comes to change, she tries to embrace it knowing that perceptive little ones are watching how the adults around them react.
“I think that if we look at this situation that we’re all going through and we try to find the positives in what is happening, it’s going to benefit everyone all around,” Barbieri said.
Even with an increased enrollment at Little Learners, Barbieri said there is still room for more students at the Warwick location.