Stevie's Smiles Behind the Masks: Perspectives TSS Services Continue This Fall

By Sara Porcaro | Oct 6, 2020
Transitional School Services, Disabilities, Rhode Island, Pandemic, Coronavirus, Education, In-Person Learning

Already, there are only three months left of 2020--and as the familiar signs of autumn come to visit again, leaves flickering red, gold, and orange through cool breezes, so too does a new school semester. It's a different one than most, however: it's a semester of social distancing, masks, and a continuous high alert as students return to school amid the pandemic. Yet still, these students are working hard to balance their education and their safety--and this fall, many students are continuing work internships and other trainings through Perspectives' Transitional School Services (TSS). One of those students is Stevie, who's completing his high school experience with a position at Rock Spot Climbing in Wakefield.
With the specifics of reopening falling largely to each town and city, as well as families' understandable concern about whether or not it's safe to send their kids to school again, the beginning period of TSS services looks much different than it usually does. For many youths, the telehealth and distance learning measures have been successful--sometimes in ways the professionals that support them never expected--but for others, the benefits of in-person learning are critical, and so are the transitional services they receive to move from school to the workforce. That's why TSS services are crucial, and why our teams of professionals are standing ready to jump back into working side-by-side with students this semester.
"Lots of students are at odds with distance learning, especially because it's tough on caregivers who can't support them the way professionals would in schools due to other responsibilities," Senior Director Sean Cornell says. "We're looking forward to getting back into the schools and internships with students, and while it's a bit slower this year, we're still getting great work done."
Now, Perspectives stands poised to accept and support students on a rolling basis this year. The result is a slower onboarding of students into the program, but a nonetheless smooth integration, with youths getting to know their support professionals and beginning to make progress towards work internships with participating businesses. Some students are beginning internships with new partners, while others, like Stevie, are continuing ones from the previous school year--and after several months of distance learning and the shelter-in-place, Stevie is excited to be back at Rock Spot Climbing in Kingston, as well as continuing his education with tutor Tim at Academic Advantage in Warwick.
"I'm really social," says Stevie, "so the shelter-in-place was tough. I'm excited to be back at [Rock Spot Climbing] now, though; I missed seeing my coworkers and my other friends."
On the job, Stevie is diligent with both safety protocol, including wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands, and with his duties, which are twice as important in our current climate. He works to keep the rock climbing gym clean and neat for customers, making sure the floors are swept and mopped, the cubbies are clean, and the frequently touched surfaces are properly disinfected. It's work he takes seriously, and a work environment he greatly enjoys, as his coworkers are friendly and, in Stevie's words, "a lot of fun to hang out with." It's taken a bit longer than usual to get back into the swing of things, but already, Stevie is enjoying being back in the places he thrives, with dedicated TSS professionals like DSP Owen by his side.
"Working in TSS has definitely been different since the pandemic started," Owen says. "We have to take precautions, and we can't have the same interactions with everyone like we used to because we need to social distance. It's tough sometimes, but it's worth it if it means [individuals we support] still get to get out into the community and get good experience."
Perspectives is happy to be back with individuals during in-person learning, as well as assisting with distance learning, and just like Stevie, we're doing all we can to stay safe throughout it all. After the spring, when Stevie's favorite activities like baseball were cancelled, the summer and beginning of autumn have been a welcome change--one that Stevie is enjoying to the fullest while still staying safe. He's looking forward to the rest of the school year, especially as he works with his tutor to learn math, English, and reading skills, and all the events in his favorite topic, history. We're wishing students a healthy and successful return to school this fall, and as always, we remain committed to everyone's safety as they achieve their goals!


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