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Report raises key questions about school reopenings in Rhode Island

Michaela Antunes and her daughter, Cecilia Conway, worked from home last March on the first day of remote learning in Rhode Island.Matthew J. Lee

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Happy Tuesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I kind of love having two Monday Night Football games each week. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 28,347 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, after adding 582 new cases since Friday. The most recent overall daily test-positive rate was 2.9 percent, but the first-time positive rate was 7.7 percent. The state announced seven more deaths, bringing the total to 1,159. There were 124 people in the hospital.


Governor Gina Raimondo’s steadfast approach to reopening schools for in-person learning has drawn national praise, but “there is a compelling need for more transparency and information regarding key elements of public school operations during the pandemic,” according to a report released Tuesday by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

The report is very RIPEC-y, in that it takes 31 pages to make a handful of points that could have been made in five. But it should be required reading for policymakers because it raises important questions about how the Rhode Island Department of Education and local districts are determining whether remote learners are receiving a high-quality education, and whether they have access to the necessary technology.

You can read the full report here.

Among the questions that RIPEC suggests state leaders should be seeking to answer:

  • How many students are receiving in-person instruction and for how many days per week?
  • How many students do not have access to technology?
  • What is the student attendance rate, and how is attendance being measured, by school and district?
  • How many hours of synchronous instruction are remote learners receiving each day?
  • Of those teachers delivering remote learning, how many have received professional development in remote instruction?
  • What has been the impact of remote learning on student outcomes?

The report accurately notes that while Raimondo and other officials took a top-down approach in public when it came to ordering schools to reopen for in-person learning, the reality is that “the state’s power over the instructional operations of schools is limited."


”This limitation was perhaps no better demonstrated than by the response by most school districts to essentially reject the directive by the governor and RIDE to reopen schools by Oct. 13," the report states.

In the end, only nine of 36 districts made full in-person instruction available to all students by Raimondo’s deadline, according to the report.


⚓ For years, Providence police have tried to control illegal weekend joyrides by drivers of dirt bikes and ATVs. Now a serious crash is inflaming racial tensions. Ed Fitzpatrick has the story.

⚓ If you enjoy Rhode Map, you should sign up for Home Stretch, our pop-up newsletter covering the final weeks of the presidential election. Now I’ll be in your inbox in the morning and at night. Good luck.

⚓ The FBI is searching for a man who is wanted on federal charges in Rhode Island for allegedly using stolen identifications to collect fraudulent jobless benefits.

⚓ Former Channel 6 reporter Kristen Welker will have an extraordinary amount of power when she moderates Thursday’s presidential debate: a mute button.


Construction: The owners of the Red Sox are moving forward with a plan for a five-acre project outside of Fenway that will feature office space, apartment buildings, retail stores, and possibly a hotel, along with public art and green space.

Coronavirus: Remember when there was a run on toilet paper at your local Stop & Shop? My colleague Andy Rosen reports that supermarkets are preparing for more panic buying.


Quirky: You probably didn’t plan on reading about apples today, but you have to check out this fun story from Billy Baker.

Politics: It’s possible that my colleague Victoria McGrane found the last undecided voters in America.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

Contest: Don’t forget to pick the winners of the general election in Rhode Island for a chance to win Rhode Map tote bags and gift cards to Frog & Toad.

⚓ The state Council on Elementary and Secondary Schools meets at 5:30 p.m. to discuss charter school applications.

⚓ Brown University School of Public Health Dean Dr. Ashish Jha and political science professor Wendy Schiller are hosting a 4 p.m. webinar on the politics of COVID-19.

⚓ The state Board of Elections meets at 2 p.m. to discuss preparations for the Nov. 3 general election.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.