Superintendent: Raimondo’s criticism of districts switching to remote learning ‘not constructive’


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Superintendents across Rhode Island are firing back at Gov. Gina Raimondo after she criticized the districts that have chosen to shift to full remote learning for the remainder of the calendar year.

Raimondo made the comments during her weekly coronavirus briefing on Thursday, saying, “To the superintendents out there who have decided to go virtual, I want you to look yourself in the mirror and try a little harder because I think the kids deserve better.”

East Providence Superintendent Kathryn Crowley recently made the decision to switch her district to remote learning. She called Raimondo’s criticism “not constructive, and rather shaming.”

“I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” she said. “I can look myself in the mirror every morning and know I made the right decision for East Providence and I’m good with that.”

Crowley said she made her decision due to staffing shortages. She said the district’s situation is so dire that, at times, principals and even the assistant superintendent have filled in to teach.

Raimondo said there are resources for school districts that are struggling, including a statewide pool of substitute teachers. But Crowley said that isn’t enough.

“I can’t be more creative than I was,” Crowley said.

Thomas DiPaola, the head of the Rhode Island School Superintendents Association, said due to staffing shortages, switching to distance learning isn’t always a choice, but rather a necessity.

“They’ve tried to and continue to try to have kids in person as much as possible,” he said of the state’s school districts.

Scituate Superintendent Laurie Andries announced Friday that her district would be shifting to full remote learning for the rest of December, and said the decision was not made lightly.

“I have spent many sleepless nights thinking about this issue and what is best for our students,” Andries said in a statement. “I know that we have made the best decision for our students and staff based on our data, the state data, and what is happening around the country.”

East Providence and Scituate aren’t the only districts switching to virtual learning in the short term. Burrillville, Coventry, Cranston, Warwick, and West Warwick have also decided to finish the year with distance learning.

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