McNamara bill would require school districts to adopt COVID recovery plans

Warwick Beacon ·

Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation that would require school districts to develop COVID recovery plans.

The legislation (2021-H 5834) would direct all school districts to prepare district recovery plans which would include strategies and targets for students to address losses in student academic and social emotional learning that has occurred during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The pandemic has put tremendous pressure on families — particularly children,” said McNamara, who chairs the House Committee on Education. “In education, we’ve seen a disturbing disparity between distance learning and in-person learning. We’ve seen an increase in childhood mental health visits. We’ve seen increases in food insecurity, family stress and drops in enrollment — particularly in kindergarten and preschool. COVID-19 has devastated children, schools and families and we have to be proactive in dealing with the fallout.”

Under the legislation, district recovery plans would be focused on the needs of students based on assessments, research and data analysis.

Those plans might include extended or non-tradition school time strategies; targeted academic intervention, including tutoring; expanded access to educational programs; development of attendance recovery teams to provide support for students and families who have become disengaged; social emotional supports, which could include increased counseling, mental health support from social workers, psychologists and counselors; professional development and targeted dates for strategies to be implemented.

School districts would be required to submit the recovery plans to the Department of Education by June 30. The department would review the plans, provide feedback, and work with the districts to implement the plans.

The legislation, which is cosponsored by Representatives David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), Steven J. Lima (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket), Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket) and Evan Patrick Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), has been referred to the House Committee on Education.

McNamara, schools