NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) – The North Smithfield School Department is abandoning its proposal to offer virtual snow days this school year.
Superintendent Michael St. Jean posted a statement to the district’s Facebook page Thursday morning that said, “we have already expended a considerable amount of time planning and designing for virtual instruction days.”
“We cannot continue to invest more time into this application until a time we feel the Rhode Island Department of Education has expressed a commitment to the concept and developed clearer guidance,” St. Jean wrote.
Last week, the R.I. Department of Education notified North Smithfield that it wouldn’t approve its virtual learning proposal as submitted – requesting additional information and a number of clarifications.
In an interview today, St. Jean said RIDE told him it wouldn’t be able to review a revised proposal until January.
RIDE spokesperson, Meg Geoghegan, confirmed that North Smithfield rescinded its application.
“We’ve put forward a clear, but rigorous, rubric through which we can review and potentially approve virtual learning plans,” said Geoghegan. “The standard is appropriately high, because we want to ensure that virtual learning plans serve all students and work for all families, with a particular focus on equity of access.”
North Smithfield was the first public school district in the state that submitted a plan to take advantage of a 2017 state law designed to curb interruptions during the school year and prevent classes from running until the end of June.
Despite this indefinite pause in the plan, both groups say they want to continue to work to make virtual snow days in Rhode Island a reality.
“We will continue to work with districts to ensure they have the support and guidance they need if they want to move forward with virtual learning opportunities,” Geoghegan said.
St. Jean said he’s looking forward to being able to piloting, testing and evaluating a virtual learning day in the future.
“It is still our hope to pilot virtual instruction when RIDE is ready to move forward,” said Geoghan. “We firmly believe North Smithfield is in the ideal position to implement virtual instruction days.”
RIDE also declined to approve a virtual instructional days proposal from The Blackstone Academy Charter School, the school has yet to submit any further comment on their proposal.