Rhode Island Federation of Teacher and Healthcare 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

  • 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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  • Distance Learning “Tip” Sheet

    Rhode Island Federation of Teachers & Health Professionals

    Distance Learning “Tip” Sheet

    March 20, 2020

    The RI Federation of Teachers & Health Professionals recognizes that we are entering some very new and challenging territory as Governor Raimondo has directed all schools to move to Distance Learning Options for at least the weeks of March 23rd and 30th. We know our districts are in different places regarding their experience with on-line and other technology-based instruction and that each district will be guided by its District Learning Plan as we try to support and further our students’ learning during this crisis. Not all distance learning will be conducted on line, but we know that many of our members will be asked to conduct lessons, provide and assess assignments and communicate with students on-line and that many will need support in doing so.

    The RIFTHP appreciates the hard work, expertise and caring you are bringing to this effort and we hope to provide you with resources and support through our RIFTHP PD Network. With help from our RIFTHP local union PD and Tech experts, we will be providing “tips” for distance learning and tools to support your use of on-line distance learning technology, including what we hope will be a “virtual help desk” or other opportunities to answer your questions. As they are developed, these resources will be available to you through links provided by your Local Union President and Local Site Coordinator, and on the RIFTHP website and Facebook page. This is a “work in progress” for us at the RIFTHP, too, but we will keep you posted about available supports as they are ready.

    To get started, here are a few “tips” to help you successfully begin this new way of “schooling”:

    1. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your district’s Distance Learning Plan and expectations for you in terms of providing instruction and communicating with students and families. What are you being asked to do? How often? What resources are being provided for you and for your students?
    2. Don’t try to do too much at once. Choose a few digital tools that you and your students are either already familiar with or tools that are intuitive and easy to use. Less is more! Start slowly, be reasonable (with yourself and your students), know that we are doing something we have never done before, that we will get better at this every day and that we CAN do this.

    3. If you are going to hold any live sessions, be sure to record them. This will allow students who cannot participate at that time to access the content/learning/conversation. Providing these opportunities to talk in real time will be important for students who need to connect with an adult. Prioritize wellness over academics!
    4. This is new to students and families, too. Be sure to give clear instructions and let students know how much time you expect an activity to take. Their feedback on time estimates and what works will be crucial to adjusting our instruction and activities to work in this space.
    5. Make sure to follow the requirements that your district has set. Schedule school hours for yourself and stick to them! Teens will be working later and reaching out with questions, and parents will likely reach out after hours as well. Set appropriate boundaries because self care will be critical as we navigate this new endeavor.

    6. Identify a space in your home to present from. If you are going to run live groups or video parts of lessons make sure that you are comfortable with what will be visible to students and their families.
    7. Be flexible (with yourself and your students)! In some homes students may be sharing one device with a parent working and a sibling. They may not be able to log on at certain times or complete work by suggested deadlines. Work with students so that they can get the most out of the learning activities, but be mindful of our role to support families during this difficult time.
    8. Model lots of new and important behaviors in virtual spaces: how to post and respond in discussions, how to provide each other with appropriate feedback in or on docs and videos, how to mute when others are talking and use chat tools to post questions, etc.

    Be on the lookout for some video tutorials, live PD sessions and a virtual help desk coming from the RIFTHP soon. Please take a few moments to complete this survey so that we can tailor these offerings to meet your needs.

    If you are looking for a few on-line resources for support, you may find the AFT’s Share my Lesson site which has a host of Coronavirus information as well as thousands of lesson ideas across grade levels and subject areas and the Colorin Colorado site which has resources for teachers and parents to support Multilingual learners, helpful. We will be developing a more comprehensive list of resources and developing a few customized tutorials based on your survey responses that we hope to make available and share with you next week, so please “stay tuned”.

    On behalf of RIFTHP President, Frank Flynn, and our Local Union Presidents and PD experts who are working to help make these resources available to you, I thank you for everything you are doing to support each other, our students and our families as we engage in this “grand experiment”. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones and stay safe and healthy. I have every confidence that, together, we’ll get through this.

    In solidarity,

    Colleen A. Callahan, Ed.D.
    Director of Professional Issues
    RI Federation of Teachers & Health Professionals

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