Rhode Island Federation of Teacher and Health Professionals
356 Smith Street, Providence, Rl 02908
P (401) 273-9800 F (401) 331-8815


to the RI Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals The quality of our schools and the availability of affordable health care continue to be two of the most talked about issues in our state. These issues are at the cornerstone of the RIFTHP. The Federation is a diverse organization, representing more than 10,000 members who work as teachers, nurses and other health professionals, school related personnel, higher education faculty and staff, and state and municipal employees.

The Rhode Island Educational Mission

The quality of our schools and the availability of affordable health care continue to be two of the most talked about issues in our state. And these issues are at the cornerstone of the RIFTHP. The Federation is a diverse organization, representing more than 10,000 members who work as teachers, nurses and other health professionals, school related personnel, higher education faculty and staff, and state and municipal employees.

Frank Flynn, President, RIFTHP

Rhode Island Teachers and Education News

  • RIFTHP Letter on COVID to Gov Daniel McKee

    January 12, 2022


    The Honorable Governor Daniel McKee
    State House
    82 Smith Street
    Providence, RI 02903



    Dear Governor McKee,

    The Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals understands and strongly supports the need for students to be in the classroom every day. In fact, attendance is the single biggest factor in student achievement. For the better part of the past two years our members, like all other Rhode Islanders, have had every aspect of their lives disrupted by the consequences of Covid-19.

    The entire Rhode Island school community has shown remarkable resilience under extraordinary circumstances. Teachers, administrators, and staff have developed and implemented numerous strategies to provide appropriate educational opportunities throughout this ever-evolving crisis.

    Our state has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. Over ninety percent of our teachers and school staff have been vaccinated. In spite of this we have seen a dramatic surge in new cases since the beginning of the New Year.

    As I stated earlier the RIFTHP believes that students need to be in school whenever possible. We also recognize that there may be situations where in-person schooling may not be the safest or educationally appropriate setting of our students, teachers, or staff. Reports of collapsing classes, combining multiple classes into auditoriums or cafeterias, or even staffing classes with non-certified “teachers” for multiple days is not an appropriate educational model. As we saw at the beginning of the pandemic there may be situations where virtual learning is a viable option.

    At a recent meeting of the RIFTHP PreK-12 local presidents, who are all classroom teachers, the following list of terms and conditions for safe, healthy, and educationally sound in-person education were developed for your consideration.

    1. The decision to close a classroom, school, or district should be at the sole discretion of the local school superintendent. The local school administration with data and input from their leadership team, staff and parents have the clearest understanding of their individual schools and districts.


    The necessity to close a school or district should be made according to a set of clear metrics. Those metrics should consider factors such as the percentage of students absent, the number of teachers absent, the number of teachers necessary to cover every class, and the percentage of students and teachers who are Covid positive.


    1. In situations where closures are expected last more than two days districts will develop contingency plans for school breakfast and lunch to be provided. Also, school-based community vaccination clinics should be regularly scheduled for parents and students in districts with low vaccination rates.


    1. The State should provide resources for each school to have the staff and materials necessary to test all students and staff at a minimum of once per week.


    1. The State should provide an adequate amount of N95 or KN95 masks for all students and staff. The current mask mandate executive order should be extended until there is a dramatic decline in cases.


    1. School districts should re-emphasize the proper protocols with respect to cleaning and sanitation of buildings.


    1. Whenever possible social distancing and stable pods should be utilized.


    1. Due to the high volume of teachers who have been forced to quarantine due to contracting Covid or being determined to be a close contact the Governor should reauthorize the executive order which exempts those days from be charged to someone’s personal sick leave.

    In order to ensure the health and safety of all students and staff as well as provide the most appropriate educational opportunities for all students we urge you to consider mandating these recommendations through executive order. Thank you for your consideration I look forward to continuing working with you as we strive to return to normalcy.



    Francis J. Flynn


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  • Call for Pause to In-Person Learning

    RIFTHP and NEARI Call for Pause to In-Person Learning

    Providence, R.I. (November 16, 2020) – Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals (RIFTHP) President Frank Flynn and National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) President Larry Purtill, and leaders of the unions representing the vast majority of Rhode Island teachers and education support professionals, today called for “a holiday pause” of in-person learning and a move to distance learning for K-12 students statewide by November 23.  

    The Ocean State is amid an alarming rise in community spread of COVID-19. Viral caseloads coupled with a lag in contact tracing, staffing shortages due to quarantines, and the arrival of colder weather negatively impact health, safety, and instruction. The organizations agree a temporary move to statewide distance learning is a common-sense critical step in driving down incidence rates. 

    “Rhode Island is experiencing record high number of cases and an overwhelmed Department of Health, despite their best efforts, is falling behind with the required contact tracing that ensures effective quarantining and overall safety of students and educators,” said Purtill. “Districts already burdened and stretched thin are not equipped, nor do they have the capacity, to take on this duty.”

    “In August, NEARI and RIFTHP came together to call upon Governor Raimondo and the RI Department of Education to meet additional requirements for safety prior to the start of in-person learning and the governor responded,” said Flynn. “Here we are three months later in a COVID landscape that has gone beyond the original parameters put in place for reopening schools in September and has since exceeded nearly every data threshold. We have a renewed sense of urgency to move to distance learning.” 

    RIFTHP and NEARI are calling on Governor Raimondo to announce at her weekly press conference a statewide move to distance learning in order to:

    • Permit the Department of Health to catch up and stay current on contact tracing
    • Monitor the availability of COVID-19 hospital beds
    • Give the Department of Health the time needed to implement a weekly – or biweekly when medically indicated – COVID-19 testing program in all K-12 schools for both students and education professionals 
    • Allow for the delivery and safe installation of the thousands of HEPA air filtration devices ordered earlier in the school year – a welcome investment at a time when windows will need to close to the winter cold
    • Allow for the deep cleaning necessary to protect students, families, and educators upon their return

    “The social and emotional wellbeing of our students is paramount as always, but intermittent school closures put students and families on unsteady ground, disrupt class instruction, and add an undue burden to educators, support professionals and administrators who are already at the breaking point,” added Purtill.

    “Moving to distance learning through the holiday season will allow Rhode Island to get the virus under control, offer desperately-needed continuity in student learning, and equip empty buildings with necessary air filters for the colder months ahead. The conditions are right to take a pause now until we are better prepared to provide a safe and healthy environment for our students, educators and support professionals,” said Flynn.

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