EAST GREENWICH—The school committee and superintendent discussed Monday their search for a new principal and vice principal for East Greenwich High School, as well as the process of submitting a reopening plan for schools to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). There is currently believed to be a lead candidate for the position of principal and the district is likely to provide parents with an opt-in to distance learning for those uncomfortable risking exposure to COVID-19.

“We concluded the second round of interviews,” Schools superintendent Alexis Meyer said of the search for a new EGHS principal. “There is a clear candidate that came through in the process.”

In all, there were eight candidates that made it through two rounds of interviews with a hiring committee led by former EGHS principal, now assistant superintendent, Michael Podraza. As that search closes the search for an assistant principal will swing into full gear. There are currently around six candidates vying for the position, and they will move into a similar multi-round interview process.

“We anticipate moving forward with that as well,” Meyer said.

The superintendent expressed that it was the district’s desire to come to a conclusion in their principal search first, before move to the question of the assistant principal, in order to ensure strong leadership was present as well as to have the ability to find a candidate for the secondary role that would round out a strong team.

In other news, the district received its initial feedback from RIDE regarding its proposal for reopening the district for the Fall term. The proposal was mandatory for all school districts and was required to include fully fleshed-out outlines for four different scenarios with regard to how schools would proceed with the term with differing levels of distance learning in light of potential COVID-19 outbreaks. In all, the district’s proposal was well received and will require some minimal adjustments.

“We got feedback back from RIDE,” Meyer said. “We have commendations in teaching and learning. Especially in special education, they highlighted that.”

“We have some places we need to respond to things,” Meyer added. “We didn’t plan for lunch in the [100 percent] distance learning scenario so we need to go back and fill that place there.”

Also notable was the fact that RIDE stipulated the district must have a plan in place for all five days of the week. Plans previously stated that Mondays could be used as a distance-learning day district-wide.

To this end, two key points were raised to the community. The first was that the district will be seeking a way for parents and guardians to opt-in to distance learning regardless of which of the four plans the district adopts for in-person learning. The second was that the district will not have the final confirmation from RIDE on which of the four plans it is to pursue until Aug. 17, giving parents and administrators alike little time to plan and prepare for the new term.

“We do anticipate and are planning for the opportunity to opt-in to a distance learning scenario,” Meyer said, adding that there would be three community surveys going out over the coming weeks starting on Wednesday.

“We won’t know [which reopening plan is in effect], no district will know, until Aug. 17,” Meyer added. “Which give you such a short window”

The truncated timeline from RIDE regarding final plan approval and schools opening caused headaches for the district’s logistical efforts as well. Committee member Anne Musella highlighted that the lack of a final word on the matter until so late in the summer could mean a delay in effectively adopting the appropriate transportation plan.

“If we won’t know until Aug. 17 what we’re supposed to do, that will mean we won’t know what transportation is supposed to look like,” Musella said. “It’s just another piece of the puzzle.”

There will be a virtual community forum Aug. 4 on the subject of school health and safety. The next regular meeting of the school committee will take place Aug. 12.

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