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Q&A: Ed Commissioner Infante-Green on remote learning plans

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green says most — but not all — public school students in Rhode Island are set up with devices and WiFi ahead of Monday’s two-week remote learning period in the state.

Watch the extended interview with Infante-Green in the video above.

In a FaceTime interview with WPRI 12 on Friday, Infante-Green said districts have been handing out Chromebooks, WiFi hotspot cards and setting students up with Cox cable, which has been providing free internet services for low-income families. She estimated that 95% of Rhode Island students have the technology they need for Monday.

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“We want to request from any organization, any individuals that want to make a donation, we are taking that donation, because we do need more devices,” Infante-Green said. She said districts need more WiFi devices in particular.

Students who don’t have internet access yet have been given paper packets, books and other physical materials.

All districts got their plans in to the state by the deadline on Thursday, and Infante-Green said they would be made public by Monday.

“Some of them look really, really good. They vary,” Infante-Green said. “We’re still giving feedback on some of the plans to be tweaked. We’re sharing the strongest ones amongst the districts.”

Parents with children with IEPS, or individualized education plans, have expressed concerns about the students receiving critical services and therapies they normally get at school.

“It’s really important that those kids get as much as what they need made possible,” Infante-Green said. “Obviously, we can’t do the physical therapy kind of stuff, but a teacher can show a parent how to do that. … Parents are going to be more hands-on.”

She said decisions have not yet been made on whether the virtual days will ultimately count as replacement school days, or if any days would need to be made up. The state has not yet decided whether schools will remain closed past April 3.

“If it goes two weeks, three weeks, it’s one conversation,” Infante-Green said. “If it goes the rest of the year, it’s another conversation.”

Infante-Green said RICAS tests are unlikely to take place this spring, and RIDE may apply for a waiver with the U.S. Department of Education to forgo the assessments.

“There’s a little bit of disappointment because I think everyone has been working really hard this year,” Infante-Green said. “If we don’t have the assessments, we’ll show everybody how much we’ve improved next year.”

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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