Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 02-18-2021

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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4 IN OUR SCHOOLS FEBRUARY 18-24, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION CUMBERLAND – While teach- ers say they'll be happy to see more students in person again, many remain fearful about Cumberland's plan to return to in-person learning from the current hybrid model. On Feb. 5, in an announcement that created some waves locally after it took School Committee members, teachers and families by surprise, Supt. Bob Mitchell announced a planned return to a four-day school week starting Feb. 22. The plan, accord- ing to Mitchell, is to bring students in grades K-2 back to school next week. The next step would be to bring in grades 3-5 back the following week begin- ning March 2. The middle school principals are working on plans to transition students back in March, and the high school administration is planning to bring seniors back first, with more specific information to come. Mitchell, at the Feb. 11 school board meeting, apologized for the way the announcement was han- dled, explaining that he "wanted to give parents and staff opportunity to prepare." He said he wouldn't have an issue putting the plan before the committee for a vote. "I should not have done that," he said, answering concerns from member Denis Collins about why such an important matter wouldn't go to the committee for a vote, and that it could set a precedent for other important votes that impact people, including perhaps future redistricting. Chairwoman Karen Freedman then put the item on the school board agenda under reports from Mitchell. She said the committee was put in a bit of a tough spot with the announcement, and she does expect more of a discussion before such an announcement. Technically, however, the plan doesn't legally have to go to the committee for a vote, she said. Kerry Carlson, a middle school educator and president of the Cumberland Teachers Association, said teachers want to welcome back as many students as possible in a safe way, but 68 percent of union members are not in favor of this plan due to safety concerns. Many will make the case that a return to school is safe, Carlson said, but teachers are hav- ing a problem with the conflict between what they're being told in their lives outside of school, including that they need layers of pre- cautions to stay safe, such six feet of distancing plus masking, handwash- ing, and staying away from people outside of one's household, and what's being said in school. There might be more than 20 students in a room, some without their masks on, with a maximum of three feet of space between them, she said. Teachers are not trying to be dif- ficult, and want to do what's best for students, she said, but they're scared. Many have risk factors or family members with risk factors, she added, and school officials need to balance the risks involved with the reward of bringing students back. Committee members Collins and Amy Rogalski expressed concern about teachers, mentioning that educators need to be consulted and given answers on how they'll be protected. Rogalski said some teach- ers who go between schools will be doubling their exposure, and many are afraid. Mitchell said officials are trying to be sensitive to the feelings of teach- ers, but said he thinks it's important to focus on science in the equation, noting the studies that have shown how safe the school setting is, with less than 1 percent of students test- ing positive for COVID-19. The virus has not been shown to be spreading within educational set- tings, and Cumberland has done extensive upgrades to air quality, he said. "I understand their concern," said Mitchell, adding that the district wants to be sensitive and support teachers who are nervous, providing every possible mitigation strategy to keep them and students safe. He said it's also important to men- tion that other districts, including Lincoln, have been doing in-person learning for a while, and he believes Cumberland has a responsibility to bring students back. Reading specialist Jessica Macedo said achieving three feet of space in classrooms is already a challenge, and she sees it being nearly impossi- ble with more students in class. She said she worries that extensive pro- cedures in place won't be enough, particularly if students come back so soon after winter break. Macedo said she misses seeing more of her students face to face, but if officials don't want to wait until all teachers are vaccinated, they should at least wait 14 days after February vacation ends for a return. Teacher Danielle Beauchene said no one sought their input before the announcement was put out. She described a scenario of 25 students being in a room, all eating break- fast, lunch and snack, times when they're allowed to pull down their masks, with only cardboard dividers between them. She said she mea- sured desk distance and found only 2.5 feet between them. Beauchene said she too would like to see teach- er vaccinations given priority. Francesca Beaudoin, a parent of three children and a physician and scientist, congratulated Mitchell on his "incredible diligent" work to the point where he himself has become a scientist. She described how she pulled her students out of Cumberland schools before the start of the school year out of concerns over remote learning, but spoke of the widening educational gaps for those who don't have the privilege and means to take that step toward private education. Beaudoin said science supports that in-person learning can happen safely, noting the many other nega- tive impacts to children from not being in school, including food inse- curity and unreported child abuse. "You are prepared, you are equipped, it is safe," she said, add- ing that the rate in schools has prov- en in many cases to be lower than in the community and that schools are not a vector for transmission. Teacher Andrea Friedland said she would "love to be back with all my kiddos," but wants safeguards in place. She said she would love to see Plexiglas dividers replace cardboard, as have been installed in Lincoln, so her students don't have to peak over the top to see what's happening. Friedland said she's hoping to avoid her third stint in quarantine. Teacher Jodi Magill thanked Collins and Rogalski for mentioning teacher safety in their comments. She said it would be easier to have all 25 students back in the class- room, and she and many others want to get there, but going back now would be counter to the steps teachers are taking every day to protect themselves and keep safe for when they're around other family members. All of a sudden, she said, those health precautions "don't real- ly apply anymore" when it comes to getting classrooms reopened. Magill also said she'd like to see a push to get teachers vaccinated. Teachers remain concerned about return to school By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Editor MITCHELL COLLINS ABOUT US The Valley Breeze is a locally owned newspaper Office location: 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite #204, Lincoln, RI 02865 Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Closed weekends and holidays. Call us: 401-334-9555 Fax: 401-334-9994 Online: READER SERVICES DO YOU HAVE A STORY IDEA? Contact Managing Editor Ethan Shorey at or call 401-334-9555, ext. 130. 24-hour, 7-day voice mail. ADVERTISING – Call your sales representative, or Director of Sales Jack Birolini at 401-334- 9555, ext. 141 or email: CLASSIFIEDS – Place ads at, or call 401-334-9555 during office hours. NEWS BRIEFS AND CALENDAR EVENTS Let others know about events sponsored by your non-profit organization, church or school. • Deadline: Entertainment news is Friday at noon. All other news is Monday 3 p.m. • Submit: We prefer receiving news via e-mail. Send yours to You may also fax or mail your item. Receipt does not guarantee publication. Event marketing by for- profit businesses requires paid advertising. DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE? Share the good news of your births, engagements, weddings and anniversaries. This is a free service. Pictures will be returned upon request. • Get forms: Visit, click on "Celebrations" at left, and select a form; or call 401-334-9555; or stop by the office during business hours. OBITUARIES – Obituaries cost $90–$125. They are posted online immediately, and placed in the first available paper. Check with your funeral director for details. ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED STORY? All current stories remain free online for one week after print publication. Older stories are now archived online back to July 2001. We're sorry, but we have few back issues of papers in our offices and cannot provide free library services. • Online: Visit, and click on "Search The Breeze Archive." Use keywords to find old stories. Single stories cost $2.95 through our Newsbank partners. Multi-story packages, which provide lower costs per story, are also available. SUBSCRIPTIONS – The Valley Breeze may be delivered anywhere in the United States, in an envelope, by First Class mail only. The cost is $189 per year, or $4 per week. Phone 401-334-9555 for details. COPYRIGHTS – or its content may not be linked to any other Web site without the written permission of the publisher. News aggregators that solicit advertising may not link Town of Lincoln Zoning Board of Review PUBLIC HEARING "is meeting will be held utilizing Zoom Meeting and the Zoning Board Members will be participating remotely. e meeting will be live-streamed and can be viewed at under current meetings." When: March 2, 2021 at 7:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Topic: Zoning Board Meeting Please click the link below to join the webinar: Monthly: ics?icsToken=98tyKuCpqTkiHt2XuB6BRowcB4joWejxmHpHgqdxvh7PIhpgbzvVPOBuEZduKI3- Topic: Zoning Board Meeting Please click the link below to join the webinar: Password: 153455 Or iPhone one-tap: US: +13017158592,,91728492876#,,,,0#,,153455# or +13126266799,,91728492876#,,,,0#,,153455# Or Telephone: Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 9128 or 833 548 0276 (Toll Free) or 833 548 0282 (Toll Free) or 877 853 5247 (Toll Free) or 888 788 0099 (Toll Free) Webinar ID: 917 2849 2876 Password: 153455 International numbers available: NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT A PUBLIC HEARING WILL BE HELD UTILIZING ZOOM MEETING ON TUESDAY, the 2nd day of March, 2021 at 7:00 P.M. for the purpose of hearing ap- plications for a Special Use Permit, Variance or an Appeal from the Zoning Ordinance of the Town of Lincoln, Rhode Island. ese applications concern: William King, 37 Olney Avenue, Lincoln, RI – Application for Dimensional Variance seeking side yard setback and height relief for a newly construction single family home located at 37 Olney Avenue, Lincoln, RI. AP 17, Lot 96 Zoned: RS 12 REMAND BY THE SUPERIOR COURT TO THE ZONING BOARD OF REVIEW FOR FUR- THER FINDINGS. Superior Court decision dated December 30, 2020, ree Kids LLC v. Lori Lyle, Steve Kearns, John Bart and David DeAngelis, in their capacities as members of the Town of Lin- coln's Zoning Board of Review, PC No.: 2018-6054. ree Kids LLC, P.O. Box 2, East Greenwich, RI - Application for a Dimensional Variance seeking front yard setback relief for the construction of a new home on a vacant lot located on Wilbur road, Lincoln, RI, designated as Assessor's Plat 28, Lot 80, Zoned: RA 40. David DeAngelis, Chairman, Lincoln Zoning Board of Review

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