St. Rocco's preparing classrooms, students for a return to school


Saint Rocco School, located at 931 Atwood Ave. in Johnston, has a 55-year history of building a base of faith and academics in a nurturing environment.

The floors in the corridors and classrooms gave off a special shine last Thursday morning. Moreover, as the Rev. Angelo N. Carusi, the pastor at St. Rocco’s Church, let it be known, “No one has been in this building since the pandemic began in March.”

As Joe Lembo – a member of the Saint Rocco School Board and proud parishioner at the Roman Catholic parish – explained: “We are not letting COVID-19 get in the way – but we are respecting the guidelines for all officials of the state, from the governor to the Department of Health to the Department of Education and of course our bosses, the Bishop and Diocese of Providence.”

He added: “We have spent months preparing our school. In fact, no one has been in the classrooms other than maintenance personnel since March, and our reopening plan that was that submitted to the state has been approved without one change needed.”

So it’s back to school, and classes will resume on Monday, Sept. 14, with the middle school grades five to eight, according to Sr. Mary Antoinette, director of religious education at St. Rocco School. Grades three and four will come back on Tuesday, Sept. 15, with grades one and two meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Thursday, Sept. 16, will be the first day for pre-K, kindergarten and grades three and four.

On Friday, Sept. 18, all the classes will be in school for a full day of classes and as Sisters Antoinette, Donna and Daisy, as Father Carusi and Lembo emphasized: “The classrooms have been set up for social distancing and are sanitized daily with our on disinfecting sprayer the school recently purchased. Our plan is to also have multi-pole wipe downs of all common objects such as doors and railings every day.”

Yet another highly important part of the St. Rocco’s School reopening is a special theme, Lembo announced, as “our 100-percent choice, we are prepared with in-class learning starting Sept. 14 with an option for distance learning as well as in real time.”

He added: “Students at home will be on the same schedule as students in the classroom. Our advanced technology allows teachers to be on camera, see the students from home in a Zoom environment and share the lessons our white board.”

He also explained that Saint Rocco’s has added routers in every classroom and the school has the speed and bandwidth necessary to keep up with everyone.

“If a parent decides once school gets going that they want to change their choice and if the student is home and they want to have them in class, we will work to accommodate them,” he said.

Lembo also explained: “St. Rocco’s School has met and exceeded the guidelines out forth by the state on ventilation, filtration, distancing and learning. We haven’t left anything to chance; our school nurse is our compliance officer and will be overseeing the cleaning and distancing plans daily.”

Members of the St. Rocco School faculty, like fourth-grade teacher Lisa Ciunci, are “anxiously awaiting the reopening of school. We can’t wait to have the students back – we miss them dearly and are well-prepared and safe.”

While the pandemic has created havoc for parents of school-age children, Ciunci related: “It has been a difficult situation for us, we well. We are ready to teach our children in the classroom as well at home. It is of the utmost importance that children need to be in school, especially for their well-being.”

Ciunci and Lori Sweeney, a first-grade teacher, added: “Children miss school and each other. We are all looking forward to reopening; all the necessary preparations have been made and we feel very safe about coming back to school.”

Lembo announced that “busing is still available and St. Rocco School is limiting class sizes and there are spaces in all classes. Distance learning can continue to grow if parents enrolling new students with to choose us for that option.”

For more information, call the school at 401-944-2993. 


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