Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 10-14-2020

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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Page 12 of 23

PAWTUCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | OCTOBER 14-20, 2020 ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL / LETTERS 13 Baxter: Distance learning isn't working To the Pawtucket School Committee and administration, distance learning isn't working, it's not going to work, and the long term damage you will inflict on the educational welfare of our students could be irreparable. As a parent of a Pawtucket student, spouse of a Pawtucket teacher, former member of the Pawtucket School Committee and a front line state employee, I cannot help but question the actions of the Pawtucket School Department in light of what we are witnessing statewide. It's not possible to replicate the classroom experience on a virtual level. The virtual experience renders devoid the creative dynamics teach- ers employ to engage their students. I have heard experiences of students who won't turn on their camera or audio for their teacher to engage them due to their discomfort in revealing at home living conditions. In situations where video and audio are operating, teachers and students have been subjected to foul language, abusive behavior and questionable activity coming from the homes of fellow students. Any of these situa- tions would cause a student to "check out" from the experience. Not to mention the emotional toll separa- tion takes on children who cannot engage with classmates, collaborate on projects, or participate in perfor- mance activities. As was the case in the spring, what appeared as a safe and reasonable alternative to in- person learning was not sustainable and students began to fall away. This happened, it's incontrovertible and it will happen again. What is especially concerning is our school system lacks any measure to track and evaluate performance throughout the virtual learning process, only to review results at the end of a semester. This is too late in the process, you won't have the time to correct it and you will lose students. As it stands today, teachers are powerless to get non- participating students to participate. Parents have jobs to report to to support their families. How can one reasonably expect an unsupervised, unengaged child to participate? This is a fool's errand. Rhode Island General Law del- egates school committees and super- intendents with the care, control and management of their respective schools and school departments. Their first two enumerated responsi- bilities being, (1) To identify educa- tional needs in the community, and (2) To implement educational plans, policies, and programs to meet the needs of the district. Distance learning in a purported healthy environment will not meet the educational needs of the district. Rather, creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment to resume in-person learning accom- plishes this objective to a far greater degree. After a rash of school shoot- ings nationwide, we didn't shut down our schools and resort to vir- tual learning. Rather we made our schools safer and carried on with the traditional in person experience. After having months to prepare, opt- ing to resort to full virtual learning should not be the final outcome. We had a hybrid model in place. We had a virtual academy to provide an alternative to teachers, parents and students who had concerns about returning to an in-person setting. Throwing up your hands and resolv- ing that you simply "can't do it" is unacceptable. You were elected to do better. To do better by the stu- dents whose educational welfare you took an oath to protect. When every school district that touches your bor- ders has resumed in person learning, what is your reasoning? Please do better by our kids. JOHN BAXTER Pawtucket "They've never given the resi- dents of Central Falls any issues relative to operations," he said. Elected officials and neighbors disagreed with Delaney. Ward 5 Councilor Jessica Vega said she was against the application when it first came before the board last month and that her mind didn't change after visiting the facility two weeks ago. Vega said there's a lot of pressure to "dazzle" people by growing and developing successful businesses in town. "The people behind me are developing the community as residents and taxpayers," she said. "They're coming to you saying: no, we don't want this in our com- munity. Your responsibility as a board is to respond to them and to respect their voices, not that of Western Oil." Ward 4 Councilor Franklin Solano said, "As a council member and resident, we welcome new businesses that bring benefit or value to our city. Unfortunately, that isn't the case here. I have so many residents complaining about this and expressing concerns who frankly don't feel comfortable with what's going on here." Rep. Jim McLaughlin, urging the board to deny the project said, "My main area of concern is safety and the welfare of the people of this district, and that should be your concern as well. My constituents have unanswered questions regard- ing safety factors that need to be answered before a decision is made on this." Several officials penned letters to the board citing concerns with the project, including McLaughlin, Rep. Joshua Giraldo, Rep. Jack Lyle, City Council President Maria Rivera and two co-councilors, and Lincoln Town Planner Al Ranaldi. Delaney moved to remove the letters from the record because each official claimed to be speaking on behalf of their constituents, he said. For example, Delaney asked that Ranaldi's letter be removed because Ranaldi claimed to be representing the town but that "no authorization" was included from the solicitor or Town Council. City Solicitor Robert Weber said Delaney was welcome to object to any of the comments made but that members of the board could choose whether or not to take the comments into account. "His objection is mainly made to preserve the record in case they appeal this to Superior Court," he said. "Whether you want to take those letters into account when vot- ing is certainly up to you." Neighbor and former elected official Daniel Issa said in his 35 years in elected office, "I never saw so many officials agree on anything," adding that he's "grate- LETTER WESTERN OIL From Page 7 HOUSE DISTRICT 46 Cullen: Raimondo has failed frontline workers House District 46 candidate John Cullen says he believes Gov. Gina Raimondo "failed and was derelict in not supporting frontline home care and hospice workers including those delivering service to COVID-19 posi- tive patients in congregate settings." "Gov. Raimondo spent money on her PR and daily briefings of body counts and contractions of COVID- 19, when much more could have been spent and done to protect the most vulnerable COVID-19 popula- tion," he said. "I support the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care and a $20 minimum wage and sus- tainable reimbursement rates. I sup- port home care fully, since it brings comfort to your loved ones to be at home. My grandmother had home care and died at home in 1959." "I call for an independent investiga- tion of what Raimondo did right and what she did wrong in her response in protecting our most vulnerable in congregate settings," he added. Shallcross Smith running for change in District 46 LINCOLN – Mary Ann Shallcross Smith, Democratic candidate for House District 46, said she's running for change. "As a small business owner, I have the experience to get things done. I listen to the needs of those around me. Listening to your needs is my number one priority. Your concerns are impor- tant; I will make changes," she said. Shallcross Smith said when COVID- 19 impacted her child care business, she took swift action. "My team worked with state leaders to imple- ment new regulations to reopen child care. Under my leadership, parents had child care and could go back to work." "I have the determination, experi- ence, and vision to help the constitu- ents of Lincoln and Pawtucket," she said. "I am the leader you can count on to follow through and get the job done." Lyle happy to discuss issues As the campaign for House of Representatives District 46 races to the finish line, incumbent Jack Lyle says there is still much work to be done. "I am happy to report that my door-to-door campaign over these past 18 weeks has been arduous and very rewarding," he said. "Despite the pandemic, and my wearing a facemask, my neighbors in District 46 have expressed their apprecia- tion for having a face-to-face conver- sation on numerous issues." He said they are concerned about the failure to provide small busi- nesses the relief that they need, the impact of distance learning, the fail- ure to provide adequate support for DCYF and the RIDEM, "and the fact that we still do not have a state budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. I have heard my neighbors and friends decry the fact that the state is curtailing numerous activities with no end in sight. I am eager to return to the House to address these seri- ous problems." See TANKS, Page 16 55 Broad Street, Pawtucket, RI 401-723-3400 Helping you See Since 1933! Having Healthy Eyes is all about Prevention, Education and Sometimes Treatment Comprehensive Eye Care The Latest in Fashion and Designer Eyewear Contact Lenses No appointment needed to browse selections or be fitted for glasses Dr. Ben Klibanoff Dr. Mona Klibanoff Dr. David Klibanoff Do you like to read The Valley Breeze? Then please shop with our advertisers, and tell them 'I saw it in The Breeze!'

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