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Update for the Week of August 9th
Update for the Week of August 9th
Paul Barrette
Monday, August 10, 2020

Hello OCRS families,

I hope that everyone made it through this past week's storm safely and that you didn't lose power for too long. I want to continue to share regular updates with you to ensure that you are receiving the important information that Dr. Paolucci has been sending out, as well as information that is specific to OCRS.

Return to School Report #8

Last Friday Dr. Paolucci shared the eighth Smithfield "Return to School Planning Report" with all Smithfield families. If you have not yet read it or if you did not receive it, I strongly encourage you to read the weekly report in its entirety at

Recording of the August 6th Family Forum

A recording of the district's August 6th Family Forum is available online on the district's YouTube channel. It was terrific to see so many OCRS families in attendance and participating in the forum!

Virtual Learning Option survey

If you are interested in a Virtual Learning Option for your child, please remember to fill out the district's online survey by Wednesday, August 12th. The reasoning behind a district-wide deadline of August 12th is so that teachers, specialists, and principals will have adequate time to plan for this additional learning option for our students.

You can find and view all of the details of the Virtual Learning option in the introduction of the online form at Do not actually complete and submit the online form UNLESS you are interested in the Virtual Learning option, however all families are encouraged to view the form and review all of the information.

Why doesn't the Virtual Learning Option include live streaming of classes?

A number of families across the district have been asking why live streaming of classes is not included as part of the Virtual Learning Option. This was discussed during the August 6th Family Forum, but here is a summary of why live streaming of classes is not currently included as a component of the district's Virtual Learning Option.

  • Students will have live interaction with the teachers on a weekly basis at scheduled times.
  • Lesson materials posted to Google Classroom will be robust and will include slideshows, videos, etc.
  • We will be distributing instructional materials, school supplies, and Chromebooks to students participating in the Virtual Learning Option. Students will also have access to all electronic textbooks and platforms.
  • Distance learning lessons and in-person lessons are structurally different making it difficult to do both at the same time.
  • There are outstanding privacy questions about live streaming elementary school classrooms.
  • Special education and intervention services will continue as part of the Virtual Learning Option. Once we know which students are participating, we will be able to better solidify our plans for services.
  • We are starting with the virtual option as planned but will continue to assess it based on feedback from all stakeholders.

Changes to the OCRS teaching staff for the upcoming school year

From year to year teachers and staff members change for a variety of reasons. For example, with Mrs. Campbell's retirement and the decisions of Mrs. Allen and Mrs Paolino to take this school year off to stay home to care for their newborn children, we will be welcoming two new 4th grade teachers and a new 2nd grade teacher to Old County Road School! We are also welcoming a new full-time school psychologist to fill the position that Mrs. McGee vacated last year when she left to take a position in her hometown of Cranston.

Ms. Christina Votta, a recent graduate of Rhode Island College, will be joining us as a 4th grade teacher. Ms. Votta served as a Smithfield substitute teacher last winter and spring and we loved having her on the days that she taught at OCRS. We are excited to welcome her to 4th grade!

Ms. Stephanie Aceto will be joining us from St. Mary School in Cranston where she taught 4th grade this past year. Ms. Aceto will be teaching 4th grade at OCRS for the entire upcoming school year while Mrs. Paolino is out on leave. We are excited to welcome her to 4th grade!

Ms. Kaitlyn Kibbe, a recent University of Rhode Island graduate, will be teaching 2nd grade at OCRS for the entire upcoming school year while Mrs. Allen is out on leave. This past spring, Ms. Kibbe volunteered her time at LaPerche school in Smithfield and the students and staff there loved the time she was able to spend with them. We are excited to welcome her to 4th grade!

Ms. Jennifer Stepsis, a recent graduate of Worcester State College, will be joining us as our new school psychologist. Ms. Stepsis has multiple years experience as an intern and practicum student in Massachusetts public schools and we are excited to welcome her to our school community!

Unfortunately, we also need to say goodbye to two OCRS teachers for this upcoming school year. Mrs. Erin Preston has accepted a position teaching music in Jamestown. This position is closer to home for Mrs. Preston and allows her to fulfill one of her dreams of being able to lead her own middle school chorus. While we are going to miss Mrs. Preston at OCRS, we wish her the best in her new adventure in Jamestown!

We also need to say goodbye to Ms. Lindsay Burrows who has accepted a position teaching art in her hometown of Cranston. This new position allows Ms. Burrows to teach in one school, rather than be itinerant, and to pursue an opportunity teaching older students. Ms. Burrows has asked me to share the message below with all OCRS families. We are truly going to miss her at OCRS and we wish her the best in Cranston!

Dear OCRS Families,

I have had the pleasure of teaching your students over the last five years. I have watched them grow as people, artists, designers, and students. They have made me smile and laugh every day and I have absolutely loved teaching them. I am so incredibly proud of them.

Over the last week, I have been battling with a very difficult decision. I have decided to take a middle school job in the Cranston Public School System. I am excited for the opportunity to teach older students, but am heartbroken thinking about leaving our OCRS Raccoons. I have loved every second of teaching in Smithfield and truly love our students.

It breaks my heart to know that I won’t be teaching your children any more but please know if there is ever anything I can do to help them in the future, please feel free to contact me.

I have loved my time at OCRS and hope that I was able to instill some level of love and appreciation for the arts in your children.

Thank you for your support. OCRS is a special place!

Lindsay Burrows

OCRS teachers, staff members, and I all appreciate the support and positive outlook that OCRS families have demonstrated during this challenging time. I will most likely send next week's update AFTER the governor announces the school re-opening plan on Monday August 17th. I am also planning to host an online OCRS Family Forum during that same week. I will send out more specific information by the end of this week.

Mr. Barrette

As we get closer to the re-opening of school, we will continue to communicate with families and staff about what changes may need to be made. Flexibility is going to be key for all of us. Please keep an eye on the "News" section of district and OCRS websites, as well as our Facebook pages for the most up to date information.

Smithfield Public Schools website "News",
Smithfield Public Schools Facebook page,

Old County Road School website "News",
Old County Road School Facebook page,