RI schools given flexibility to make up 'snow days'

The Rhode Island Department of Education is in favor of a bill that would allow schools to have learning plans that students can do at home during school cancellations to keep the school calendar on track. (WJAR)

Under the hot August sun, snow days may seem far in the future. But Rhode Island school districts often have to use them, and that means school can sometimes stretch into summer.

Sen. Roger Picard of Woonsocket introduced a bill to change how snow days are made up and that bill was signed into law this year.

The law allows school districts to come up with an online learning plan that students can do from home instead of staying in school at the end of the year to make up the days.

"The idea behind it was just to give the schools some more tools or more options to deal with snow days," Picard said. "It's up to each school district to come up with an individual plan and submit it to the Department of Education."

Leaders there will be ready to review plans by December, but the state's Board of Higher Education also must approve the change, meaning it may be tough to get it all done before the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

The state Department of Education cautions that requirements for online lessons will be strict and that all students must be able to access them. That could be tough for families who don't have internet access at home.

Picard said the language of the law is flexible because it allows teachers and students to make up the missed day at a time that works for everyone, not necessarily on the actual snow day.

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