East Providence School Committee Discusses New Policy for Cold Days
A parent from James R.D. Oldham Elementary School was concerned about children waiting outside before school during the cold last week.
CORRECTION: School committee member Ryan Tellier's remarks concerned the temperature going below 32 degrees, not 35.
The East Providence School Committee is considering a new policy for how to handle children who arrive at elementary school early on cold days.
School committee member Ryan Tellier said he planned to introduce a resolution on the next agenda to establish that the school district would allow children inside school earlier on days colder than 32 degrees.
He said he and school committee Chrissy Rossi had gotten emails from parents concerned about children who were waiting outside for school to open during some very cold days last week. Most schools open their doors at 8:45am, he said. School begins at 8:55am.
"Everything freezes at 32 degrees," Tellier said.
Rebecca Warr, a parent with two children at James R.D. Oldham Elementary School, said the temperature was about 19 degrees last week and children were lined up outside the school.
Warr said that last year the policy at the school had been to let the children in on cold days, but this year she noticed them outside. She said when she spoke with new principal Patricia Barlow about it, Barlow said that kids are hearty and could stand outside for a few minutes before school opened. Warr said Barlow also said that she had concerns about adequate supervision for the children once they were inside the school and whether they would be coming in different doors, according to Warr.
Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Edward Daft said the district hears from parents each year who think the policy should be reviewed. He said that it is at principals' discretion when to let children into the school on cold days. His concern was that if school administrators started letting kids in earlier, parents would drop them off earlier.
Superintendent Mario Cirillo said that he had only heard of the one complaint from Oldham. He said that by contract, teachers arrive at 8:45am and students are supposed to arrive at 8:50am, for school to start at 8:55am. Other children who get breakfast at the elementary schools arrive earlier.
Rossi, who said she had heard from several Oldham parents on the issue, suggested that the committee "sharpen" the policy to tell parents not to drop their kids off before 8:45am, but that if they did, the students would be let inside during cold weather.
"You can't control the parents, you can at least help the kids," she said.