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High school students in Rhode Island urged to switch to remote learning after Thanksgiving

Organized school sports will be on hold until January, the Department of Education announced

Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo speaks from the stage during Wednesday's coronavirus update at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium with Health Department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott Director and state Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green (background). [The Providence Journal / Kris Craig]Kris Craig/The Providence Journal/The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE — Governor Gina Raimondo is expected to recommend Thursday that the majority of Rhode Island high school students should move to remote learning after the Thanksgiving holiday, but elementary and middle schools will remain open for full in-person learning.

In an e-mail sent to superintendents Wednesday evening, Ana C. Riley, a deputy commissioner at the Rhode Island Department of Education, explained that high schools should move to their “limited in-person plans” that were developed over the summer, and allow for only 25 percent of students to remain in school, beginning Nov. 30.

“We know that our high school students function and live very differently than our younger students outside of school (i.e. jobs, sports, etc.) and want to make sure that we account for those factors,” Riley said.


The e-mail did not clarify whether the 25 percent capacity is optional or a mandate, and it’s unclear how long the move to mostly remote learning will last. A spokeswoman for the department of education declined to comment.

Riley also said that organized school sports will be on hold until January.

During her Thursday press conference, Raimondo is also expected to roll out more restrictions on social gatherings, restaurants, and recreational facilities like gyms.

Raimondo has repeatedly argued that schools should remain open, but the state’s two major teachers’ unions have called on her to implement a “holiday pause” on in-person learning through the end of 2021. The decision on high schools is unlikely satisfy the unions’ request.

In her e-mail, Riley said that schools should prioritize multi-language learners, at-risk students, and those with Individualized Education Plans (IEP) for in-person learning.

“As our partners across government continue to closely monitor positive rates throughout the state, the data remains clear that our schools are not places of community spread and we need to protect these controlled spaces that we know kids benefit from,” Riley said.


Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.