Participants Can Call Into the Meeting With Their Phones
Providence will be the first Council Body to use this Teleconferencing Technology
In light of the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak which has affected many of us here in Rhode Island, the Governor issued an executive order earlier this week lifting the Open Meetings Act (OMA) restrictions for public meetings.
The order allows for adequate alternative means of public access such as over phone, internet, and audio or videoconferencing when it comes to public body meetings.
“Our goal as a City Council is to be as transparent as possible,” stated City Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15). “We have decided to move from livestreaming to teleconferencing due to the rapid spread of the virus here in Rhode Island. In the last 48 hours, we have seen an increase of 21 positive infections, totaling 44 positive infections here in Rhode Island as of 1:30 PM today. It’s with that in mind that we have made the difficult decision to host our meeting using a teleconference line, a widely used and implemented practice. This will allow for residents to hear the discussions as it happens by our body in real-time.”
In light of this executive order, in addition to the prior executive order limiting gatherings of more than 25 people, and to protect the health of our Councilors, staff, and our residents Council President Sabina Matos has decided to seek alternative public access mediums for tonight’s Council meeting. The City Council will be using a teleconferencing platform for tonight’s meeting.
Call-In Information is Below: Please dial: 1-646-558-8656 Pin: 692739810# Press # again to enter the conference waiting room.
This tough decision is premised on an urgency to preserve public health while also maintaining the spirit of an open and transparent governmental process.
Updates Regarding the Federal, State, and City’s Response to COVID-19
Governor Raimondo has called for all childcare centers to be closed for the next week, until April 4, 2020. She will reassess week by week.
Any person in the State of Rhode Island currently on Medicaid will remain on the plan until the health crisis is resolved.
The RI DMV is providing 90-day extensions on registrations, renewals, etc. from the date of March 1, 2020 until the crisis is over.
Governor Raimondo has issued a “Stay at Home” order effective until April 13. What does that mean? It means that you can only leave your residence for essential purposes: groceries, medicine, and work if you cannot do so remotely.
Governor Raimondo issued another Executive Order limiting all gatherings of people in your home or outside to no more than five people. What does that mean? If you are working, you should not be in a small room with more than five people. You should not have more than five people in your home (unless they live there). You should only be in contact with those same five individuals as much as possible. This is vital to stop the spread of this virus.
Anyone returning to or entering the State from any type of travel must self-quarantine for 14-days with the exception of Public Health and Public Safety workers.
If you work outside of the State of Rhode Island and cannot work remotely, you must self-quarantine upon your return home from work daily until April 13, 2020.
Any visitor to Rhode Island from out of state staying in a hotel or short-term rental property is demanded to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Commerce RI, with support from volunteers from the Tech Community, will provide free tech support and advice on moving their businesses to remote working.
The Department of Business Regulations will introduce new regulations for larger box stores. New regulations will include a defined number of people allowed in the establishment at one time, creating social distancing in lines, increased and more thorough cleaning, and having designated staff to keep a physical count of shoppers in a store at any given one time.
The Federal Government has passed a stimulus package that will send $1.25 billion to Rhode Island. The funding will help small business loans and increase unemployment benefits for individuals that normally would not be eligible like gig workers, 1099 workers, self-employed, hairdressers, barbers, etc. Individuals will apply for unemployment online, through the current system. It is on clear as to when those funds will become available, but individuals should apply online here: File an Unemployment Claim
If you are a frontline worker in need of childcare or eldercare the State has partnered with Care.com to offer 90 Free Days of premium access to our state’s hospital, public safety, and other frontline personnel. This is a paid service. You can also volunteer as a provider offering your services for free, or sign-up to be a provider. Please visit: Care.Com RI
Any person returning to Rhode Island via air travel – domestic or international – must self-quarantine for 14-days. They will be greeted at T. F. Green Airport by a member of the National Gaurd and asked to provide their contact information and will be tracked by the Rhode Island Department of Health during the 14-day self-isolation period. This new order does not apply to health care workers, public health workers or public safety professionals.
The Rhode Island Primary has been moved from April 28 to June 2, 2020. This will be primarily done via Mail Ballot.
The following businesses are closed until further notice: Fitness Centers, Health Clubs, Health Spas, Gyms, Aquatic Centers, Hair Salons and Barber Shops, Massage Parlors and Body Works Establishments, Beauty Salons (Including tanning, nail and eyelash salons), Tattoo Parlors, Flea Markets, and Mass Gatherings (including social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people) are prohibited.
Mayor Elorza has closed Providence Place Mall until further notice.
The City has closed all City buildings and many of our cultural sites to protect against the spread of the virus. Learn more about COVID-19 and the City’s response here: Providence COVID-19.
Don’t fall prey to COVID-19 Scams. No government agency will ask for your SSN or your address, they know it. For more information visit the Federal Trade Commission’s site regarding scams: FTC
If you are seeing price gouging the Attorney General has created an online complaint form: Online Complaint Form
Both Federal and State governments have extended tax filing deadlines until July 15, 2020.
The Governor has activated the full RI National Guard to assist with the ongoing crisis. The 1,000 men and women who have been called to service will be helping with testing and other logistics. It is simply a measure to have more helping hands during this time.
There is now a 30-day waiting period for the purchase of firearms in place, due to the need to have safety personnel available to assist with the ongoing health crisis.
The Governor has called upon the Army Corps of Engineers to help retrofit and locate potential sites for hospital surges.
Health Resources for COVID-19
There are 294 positive cases of COVID-19 in Rhode Island, and three deaths related to the virus. (This number changes daily and will be updated immediately after the Governor’s daily briefing.)
If you do not have insurance Health Source RI has opened an emergency enrollment period until April 15, and if you have been laid off for any reason you have 60 days to apply for health insurance: Health Source RI
For more information on what you should do if you feel that you may have contracted COVID-19, or come into contact with someone that could potentially have COVID-19 please visit the Rhode Island Health Department’s website or by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 401-222-8022.
Governor Raimondo has announced that testing and treatment for COVID-19 would be free for Rhode Islanders, with no co-pay or out of pocket expenses.
If you are sick at all – headache, runny nose, cough, fever or other symptoms you must stay home from work.
City planning applications, permits, and licensing reviews will require residents and businesses to use online and email tools for submission of materials and payment. In cases where this is not possible, documents can be dropped off at specified times or submitted through the drop-box located at the back entrance of 444 Westminster Street (accessible by the parking lot on Greene St).**
All Public Works requests will be handled on a case by case basis as it relates to the safety and sanitation of the city.*
The Inspections of buildings and other infrastructure will continue as regularly scheduled.*
Tax Collection will be accessible online, by phone or by mail. Mailed payments should include quarterly coupon and a personal check, certified check or money order payable to the City of Providence.*
Tax Assessment services will be accessible online. Time-sensitive documents, such as homestead exemption applications, are available online and can be mailed to City Hall or emailed to email@example.com and will continue to be processed.*
Vital Records will continue to receive documents for death certificates through mail, at specified drop-off times** or using the City Hall drop-box accessible through Eddy Street. Select documents can be requested online and will be provided through mail.
Licensing will continue to receive documents online or through mail.* New licenses will not be issued and all food, entertainment and liquor licenses and licensing violation hearings will not be held until further notice.
Public meetings that are non-essential will be postponed for the next 30 days, per the Governor’s Executive Order, and all essential meetings are encouraged to happen online or by phone as specified.
Documents processed by the Recorder of Deeds can be mailed to City Hall or dropped-off during specified times.** Property history can be searched online, research prior to 2004 cannot be done at this time.
All Finance and budget functions essential to core city operations and payroll will continue.*
The Board of Contract and Supply will continue to receive bids on city contracts according to specified drop off hours** and on the same day that the Board of Contract and Supply meetings occur between the hours of 11AM and 2:15PM. For day-of drop-offs, documents can be submitted using the buzzer located next to the wheelchair-accessible entrance of City Hall on Eddy Street and giving the documents to a member of the City Clerk’s office.
* Please note that there may be slight delays in carrying out these operations due to reduced staffing or helping address pandemic-related issues.
** Please note that select documents can be dropped off Tuesday and Thursday between 10AM and 1PM through the wheelchair-accessible entrance of City Hall on Eddy Street. Upon dropping off documents, please use the buzzer outside of the door and wait for assistance. Documents can also be submitted via drop-boxes located at City Hall, accessible through Eddy Street, and at the Doorley Municipal Building (444 Westminster Street), accessible through Greene Street. Drop-boxes will be checked twice a week, so processing may be delayed.
The following City Services and Offices or Buildings Will be Closed or Suspended Until Further Notice
Providence City Hall and all other municipal buildings
Providence Public Schools and Buildings
netWORKri Career Center
All Recreation Centers
The Botanical Cente
Museum of Natural History
BankNewport City Center and Providence Rink
Providence Housing Court
Providence Probate Court
Special Event permit issuance
Entertainment license issuance
Board of Canvassers; residents looking to register to vote can do so online.
All public programming from Parks, Recreation, and Art, Culture + Tourism
How to Volunteer, Help Your Neighbors, How to Safely Grocery Shop, & Restaurant Food Donations
The United Way of Rhode Island is creating a list of volunteers as a proactive measure to protect and support our communities during COVID-19. If you’re interested in helping nonprofits meet Rhode Islanders’ basic needs, please complete this short survey. Note: we’ll only contact you if there is a match.
Check out this handy guide of best practices that City Council has created: English and En Español
The City’s Healthy Communities Department has issued the following guidelines for grocery shopping: English and En Español
If you are a restaurant or would like to donate food from a restaurant, please follow these guidelines: English and En Español
How Can a Business Donate to the Department of Health
If you are a business owner and have the ability, supplies, or equipment to donate to the Health Department please fill out this online form: Health Donation Form
Do not go to malls or areas where large numbers of people may be – like bars or restaurants.
Do go for a walk or a run – it just means that you need to keep your distance from other people. Otherwise seemingly healthy people can be a carrier for COVID-19 and have no symptoms, but it can quickly spread – especially to individuals over the age of 60 or to those who have compromised immune systems or other underlying health concerns. So please be mindful.
Practice Social Distancing: Social Distancing is the practice of keeping a distance of roughly 4 to 6 feet between you and other people – even your loved ones. It means no close personal contact like hugging or handshaking. Say hello or nod your head when greeting a friend or neighbor.
Remember to practice safe hygiene by washing your hands, coughing and sneezing into your elbows, using hand sanitizer, and staying indoors and at home if feeling sick.
Resources Regarding Providence City Schools and Meal Services for Residents 18 & Younger
Providence City Schools have begun distance learning and education will be virtual until further notice, and the Governor will reassess the need to go longer at a later date.
The Providence Public School Department has launched a distance learning hotline for students and families who are having trouble getting through the phone lines at schools. The number is 401-456-0686 and is being managed by the Office of Family and Community Engagement. They have added about a dozen lines and have deployed more staff to manage the calls.
The Highlander Institue in cooperation with the Rhode Island Department of Education has also implemented a Distance Learning Resource Hotline you can submit your questions via the internet and their group of volunteers will contact you with the support you need: Online Request Form
Beginning on Wednesday, March 25 parents will begin to be contacted by members of the Providence School Department to assess their needs and check-in on the students and the remote learning process. This will continue over several days.
What Distance Learning looks like – check out this Google Document for more information: Distance Learning
There are 11 sites across the city where all children, ages 18 and younger, regardless of where they attend school, can access “Grab & Go” lunches for that day and breakfast for the following day.The locations will be open from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm (for school students their lunch break is from 11:00 am to 1:00 PM) Monday – Friday during the duration of the closure. On Friday, they will be sent home with three meals for each day of the weekend: Meal Distribution Locations
In addition to the meals being provided at the schools, the City of Providence is offering free, packaged dinner meals at each of Providence’s eleven recreation centers. Meals can be picked up between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM weekdays by residents 18 and under but they must be personally present at the distribution site. No ID is required: Meal Distribution Locations
Every student present in Providence schools on Friday – in grades 3-12 – was sent home with a Chrome Book so that they can access online learning and other tools. If your child has not received a Chrome Book contact the Principal at your child’s school, or go to the school and pick one up.
Providence City Schools will be undergoing a deep cleaning and disinfection of all schools and administrative buildings per CDC Guidelines.
Providence Community Libraries and the Providence Public Library and all associated programming have been closed/canceled until further notice.
Resources Around Utilities, Social, and State Services
The State is increasing SNAP benefits for nearly half of recipients, and you will this increase in your April 1, 2020 EBT Card deposit.
The City is also working with utility companies to ensure that if someone is unable to pay their bill due to lack of income, that their services will not be interrupted. As of now National Grid and Providence Water have shared that they will ensure continued service for all residents regardless of their ability to pay. As we know more about these programs or other utilities coming online we will update this page.
Cox Cable is now offering free internet for one month during this duration. Please note that this is only for one month, and then will become a billed service. They have also agreed to not charge late fees, or suspend service for the next 60-days for residential customers. In addition, Cox is setting up “hotspots” around the City to provide free wifi. You can enter your zip code here and it will provide you with a list of locations in your neighborhood: WIFI Hotspots
Verizon will waive late fees over the next 60 days that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus. In addition, Verizon will not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus. https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-help-customers-and-small-businesses
Residential trash and recycling pick-ups are considered essential services and will continue as scheduled.
Department of Labor and Training (DLT), and HealthSource RI will be moving to online and telephone-only services until further notice. This includes all new applications, renewals, or changes in benefits. Individuals who need to drop off paper applications will be able to do so without speaking with a customer service representative.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced earlier today that licensing road tests will be canceled through the end of the week. In addition, beginning tomorrow, all DMV satellite offices will be closed. (Closures of the satellite locations in Westerly and Warren has previously been announced).
The Cranston DMV will only be providing the following limited services: dealer appointments, adjudications, and commercial drivers licenses. Rhode Islanders are encouraged not to go to the DMV unless absolutely necessary. The DMV is only taking clients for all services by appointment only. Please check the DMV website to confirm an appointment before visiting the DMV.
Resources for Seniors
Providence has several meal sites dedicated to serving older adults throughout the city. Please contact each site directly as information may change daily: Senior Meal Sites
Grocery stores throughout Rhode Island are providing dedicated shopping hours to promote the safety and wellness of older adults: Dedicated Senior Shopping Hours
Resources for Renters
HomesRI has released fact sheets on your rights as a tenant and how you can be protected during this COVID-19 crisis: In EnglishEn Español
Resources for Lost Wages and Employee Rights
Here is a great resource of what you may or may not qualify for, and how to apply as published by WPRI News.
If you have lost work or have to stay home because of COVID-19, the state may be able to help: Workplace Aid
If you are quarantined with COVID-19 you can apply for Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI): TDI Application
If the place where you work closes or your employer tells you that you must stay home without pay, you may be able to collect Unemployment Insurance if you can please fill out the form online and not call the office as it slows down processing of checks: File an Unemployment Claim
Are you a member of the RI AFL-CIO? Here’s a comprehensive guide of resources if you are out of work and other benefits: AFL-CIO
Resources for Small Businesses
The SBA Disaster Loan Assistance has been approved by the Small Business Administration, please note due to high volume the website has had a tendency to move slow or crash: Application
If you own a small business and need assistance because of COVID-19, the RI Commerce Corporation asks that you call: The Small Business Hotline (401) 521-HELP during normal business hours or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org any time. They can help by guiding you through the claims process.
If you are having issues with the Disaster Loan Assistance application, or have been issued a denial please call 401-521-HELP.
If you have lost business because of COVID-19, we ask that you fill out the Estimated Disaster Economic Injury Worksheet shared by the US Small Business Administration. By doing this, it may help Rhode Island get federal aid in support of our small businesses who have suffered adversely due to the ramifications of COVID-19.
Changes to Municipal Courts, Fines, Scofflaw Booting, and State Courts
All trials scheduled before the Municipal Courts have been canceled until further notice. If you had a court summons to appear you will receive a new one in the coming days.
The Municipal Courts remain closed until further notice. They will tentatively reopen on Monday, April 20, 2020. If you need to make a payment you can do so online.
Current Overnight Parking Permit holders whose permits have expired will be extended until the Municipal Courts re-open. If during this period you receive a parking ticket for illegal overnight parking, you will need to bring that ticket with you when you go to renew your permit and the Courts will dismiss that fine.
The City Council has instructed the Municipal Courts to stop all Scofflaw Booting of Vehicles in Providence until further notice.
The City Council has instructed the Municipal Courts to suspend all collection actions until further notice.
The City Council has instructed the Municipal Courts to stop all doubling and tripling of fines as of Friday, March 16, 2020.
State Courts are closed until April 17, 2020.
Potential Resources for Educators, Learners, and those Craving the Arts
If you have access to streaming services, some of Broadway’s best shows are available across platforms including Amazon Prime, Apple, Netflix, Hulu, PBS and a host of others. Here’s a good list compiled by Playbill: Broadway on the Small Screen
Fan of opera? Want to expose your young ones to one of the oldest performance artforms, NYC’s Metropolitan Opera is offering nightly viewings of some of their most revered performances: OperaWire
12 of the world’s most famous museums have virtual tours you can access online for free. Check out this article from Travel & Leisure to find one you might want to visit! Virtual Museum Tours
Providence Restaurants Open for Takeout or Delivery Thank You Eat Drink RI for This List For a Complete List of Restaurants Open in Rhode Island: Eat Drink RI
Beginning on Tuesday, March 17, there will be ten sites across the city where children ages 18 and younger, can access “Grab & Go” lunches for that day and breakfast for the following day. The locations will be open from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm Monday – Friday during the duration of the break, and will continue if the State decides to keep schools closed for a longer period to stop the spread of COVID-19. Please note that Asa Messer Elementary and Alvarez High School have been moved from the list.
Service lines will be located at the front entrance of each school. No families will be allowed in the buildings. Sodexo staff will hand each student pre-packaged meals. Please note that children do not need to be enrolled in the Providence Public School District to access this program. This is a change to what has been previously shared.
In addition, the City of Providence will be offering free, packaged dinner meals beginning Wednesday, March 18 at each of Providence’s eleven recreation centers. Meals can be picked up between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM weekdays by residents 18 and under, but they must be personally present at the distribution site.
The Members of the City Council have been in constant communication with the Administration, the Providence Emergency Management Agency, the Providence School Department, and Public Safety officials to assess and ensure the safety of our residents during these trying times.
As you are aware, yesterday Governor Raimondo moved the spring vacation of all public schools in the State of Rhode Island to begin on Monday, March 16, 2020. Since that announcement, the Providence School Department has worked to put mechanisms in place to ensure that no student goes hungry.
Beginning on Tuesday, March 17, there will be eight sites across the City where Providence Public School children can access “Grab & Go” lunches for that day and breakfast for the following day. The locations will be open from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm Monday – Friday during the duration of the break, and will continue if the State decides to keep schools closed for a longer period to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Service lines will be located at the front entrance of each school. No families will be allowed in the buildings. Sodexo staff will hand each student pre-packaged meals. To qualify for meals, students must attend a Providence Public School and be personally present at the distribution site.
During this time we ask that everyone continue to practice safe hygiene by washing their hands, coughing and sneezing into their elbows, using hand sanitizer, and staying indoors and at home if feeling sick.
Every student present in Providence schools on Friday – in grades 3-12 – was sent home with a Chrome Book so that they can access online learning and other tools. Here is a great selection of sites that have waived subscription fees during this period: Online Learning
The City has implemented a 100 person rule for restaurants and bars and has closed all City buildings and many of our cultural sites to protect against the spread of the virus. Today, the City launched a website with information for residents on COVID-19 and our response: Providence COVID-19.
The City is also working with utility companies to ensure that if someone is unable to pay their bill due to lack of income, that their services will not be interrupted. As we know more about these programs we will share them in later updates.
As of now, we are awaiting direction from the Attorney General’s Office regarding public attendance at the City Council meeting on Thursday, March 19 at 7:00 pm. Due to the advice of the Rhode Island Department of Health and the City to implement “social-distancing” we encourage you to watch the meeting on our YouTube Channel or Facebook Page where it will be livestreamed.
For more information on what you should do if you feel that you may have contracted COVID-19, or come into contact with someone that could potentially have COVID-19 please visit the Rhode Island Health Department’s website or by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 401-222-8022.
City Council President Sabina Matos and the Members of the Providence City Council
The Providence City Council unveils updated website honoring our long and storied history
centered on our neighborhoods and community engagement
Today, the City Council unveils an updated user-centric website and a rebrand of its communications that pays homage to the City’s storied and diverse neighborhoods.
Council President Matos stated, “Providence residents love and are proud to represent the neighborhoods they come from. The rich history of our city could not exist without the great contributions made by generations of families who hail from every corner of this city. Wards and ward boundaries change over time. What anchors people to Providence are the memories made in settings like Federal Hill, Mt. Hope, and Washington Park. The story of our city is a story of neighborhoods.”
Providence is made up of 25 neighborhoods represented by 15 City Councilors. Those neighborhoods are Blackstone, Charles, College Hill, Downtown (Jewelry District), Elmhurst, Elmwood, Federal Hill, Fox Point, Hartford, Hope ( Summit), Lower South Providence, Manton, Mount Hope, Mount Pleasant, Olneyville, Reservoir, Silver Lake, Smith Hill, South Elmwood, Upper South Providence, Valley, Wanskuck, Washington Park, Wayland, and the West End.
President Matos continued, “We are extremely excited to have our neighbors interact with our new website. This new site is easier to use, navigate, and find relevant information about Councilors and meetings. Most importantly, from the landing page the site establishes a reverence for neighborhoods.”
Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Councilwoman KatherineKerwin (Ward 12) and Councilwoman Rachel Miller (Ward 13) tonight will introduce a resolution calling on the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) to increase funding for social and emotional learning and support services. They are also requesting that RIDE eliminate school-based School Resource Officers (SROs) in the City’s school district.
In multiple studies that assess the overall effectiveness of counselors, social-emotional support and learning generate positive student outcomes. An increase in funding for social, emotional support and learning; the implementation of a comprehensive safety plan that includes protocols for emergency drills; and the creation of a School Safety, Culture, and Climate Team in each school provides a more engaged and supportive learning community where students can thrive. The two resolutions provide a framework for the role of SROs, an increase in social and emotional support and learning, elimination of school-based School Resource Officers and most importantly, an avenue for more robust community engagement with students, families, teachers and administrators in the planning and monitoring of school safety.
“I have met with our young people and student groups on multiple occasions over the past year to discuss student needs. I have also researched numerous educational structures and models around safety and climate in public schools. The need across the board is for additional school counselors and social-emotional support. Our students want to learn and thrive in an environment where they feel safe and where they can escape adverse experiences and encounters that happen outside of school walls,” stated Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune. “Students want to be able to walk through the building without fear of being arrested for nonviolent criminal infractions. Teachers and administrators see the need for social-emotional support in our schools. They want to work in an environment where they feel safe and can focus on educating and developing our young people. It is our responsibility to provide the tools and resources to create an environment where teachers can effectively teach, our students can learn and thrive, our administrators can focus on developing strategies and opportunities to move our schools forward and our families can feel supported and know that their children are safe. School Resource Officers can serve as excellent partners and resources but not as a first line of defense when addressing minor and common adolescent infractions, which could be better addressed by school administrators. Our schools are not prisons; they are environments for learning. It is time that we invest in proactive approaches that do not lead to violent incidents or create a pipeline to prison instead of a pathway to success. We need counselors, social-emotional support and learning in our schools, not armed officers.”
According toLeadership for Educational Equity, studies conducted by the University of Maryland in 2011, and a study included in 2015’s Adolescent Research Review, schools with an increased police presence saw higher rates of incidents than schools without. Other studies cited that a disproportionate amount of students of color and those with disabilities were referred to law enforcement for school-based incidents over their Caucasian counterparts.
Councilwoman Kat Kerwin stated, “I am so proud of the youth organizers of Providence who have spent hours of time advocating for a school district that no longer accepts the school to prison pipeline as the norm, but instead demands dignity. This is an excellent first step to ensuring that school resource officers are not the first line of defense for disciplinary issues as we begin to envision a district with more social and emotional support rather than armed school police officers.”
The resolution clearly lays out that it is the role of principals, teachers and other educators to administer school disciplinary action, and that any disciplinary action must support personal growth, as well as provide opportunities for the students and their peers to learn from any incident that might occur. Most importantly, any discipline administered needs to be done in a way that keeps students in their classrooms whenever possible. School-based incidents should not be punished by harsh or exclusionary measures or through the justice system.
With the takeover of the Providence Public Schools by RIDE late last year, changes to the current school culture are necessary to improve the overall holistic health of our system and the students within the care of the district. Organizations like the Providence Student Union (PSU) have galvanized students across the City to ensure that their “frustrations, demands, and dreams are heard.” One of PSU’s main objectives is ending the racist and arbitrary disciplinary practices in and out of Providence’s city schools.
In addition to this resolution, Councilwoman LaFortune, along with her colleagues, Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Councilwoman Katherine Kerwin (Ward 12), and Councilman David A. Salvatore (Ward 14) will put forth a resolution requesting that the Providence Public School District and the Providence Police Department enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the role of SROs in Providence city schools.
The MOU would set forth guidelines to ensure that the School District and Police Department have a shared understanding of the role and responsibilities in maintaining school safety, improving the climate in city schools, and supporting the educational opportunities and outcomes for every student in the City’s care.
The primary role of the SROs is to improve school safety and the educational climate of schools; any disciplinary action should fall to the school’s principal and educators and must support personal growth and learning opportunities.