Senate committee passes ‘snow days’ bill

Photo: Madeleine Wright / WPRI 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Instead of playing in the snow on snow days, Rhode Island students may have to stay inside and study.

Eyewitness News has learned a senate committee has passed a bill allowing schools to require students to attend a virtual classroom on their computer when school is cancelled for snow or for an emergency.

According to State Senator Roger Picard, similar bills have passed the same committee in recent years, but it hasn’t gone much further than that.

Senator Picard says he’s based this bill on an existing piece of legislation in New Hampshire, where students have been doing schoolwork on snow days for years.

He says if it is passed in Rhode Island, there are still several steps that would need to happen.

The legislation leaves it up to each school district to decide whether or not it wants to participate.

Then, the district would need to come up with a plan to submit to the Department of Education, which would need approval from its town or city council.

The goal is to make sure students are still getting a quality education.

Senator Picard says an issue a few years ago led him to look into this online school option.

“Woonsocket Middle School had some issues with their roof,” Picard said. “They themselves had to shut down those two buildings for an extended period of time, I think it was like 5 days to shovel off the roof and stuff so that added a lot of problems for the kids for making up the days towards the end of the school year it really extended into late June.”

He says if students don’t have access to the internet, there would be a paperwork alternative.

The bill now heads to the full senate.