New R.I. law could have students learning on snow days

Districts would create lesson plans for students to complete at home

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has signed a new bill into law that will affect snow days in the Ocean State.

Under the new legislation, school districts may choose to have students learn at home when school is cancelled, rather than tacking on the missed day at the end of the school year.

The Department of Education now has until Dec. 1 to come up with a policy that allows school districts to create lesson plans for students to complete at home.

Each school district’s plan will require the approval of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education in order to count as a school day.

The lesson could include online work or a packet of material for students to take home.

This material would then replace a school day when school is cancelled due to inclement weather or some other emergency.

It’s up to each school district to decide whether to utilize the new option or opt out and continue with traditional snow days.

“This could be especially useful in special situations when only one school in a district has to close for a day, like when there’s a roof problem or broken boiler,” said Rep. Robert Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland), who co-sponsored the legislation. “An option like this would be a way to keep that school on the same schedule as the rest of the district.”

The legislation passed the General Assembly on June 28 and was signed into law on Wednesday.

“Being able to make up a day with an at-home lesson plan would give schools another option beyond adding days to the end of the year in June or eliminating some or all of one of the break weeks,” said bill co-sponsor Sen. Roger Picard (D-Dist 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland). “In a year when the missed days of school are really significant, this would help schools meet their requirement of providing 180 days of instruction.”