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Distance Learning Policy

In 2017, the Governor signed a bill into law requiring that the Rhode Island Department of Education (“RIDE”) establish a policy that allows Local Education Agencies (“LEAs”) to submit a plan if their schools intend to conduct distance learning when schools need to close due to inclement weather or other emergencies. Additionally, the pandemic forced schools to implement instruction via distance learning beginning in April 2020. Since that time period, our statewide calendar paired distance learning days with teacher professional learning days. These opportunities allowed RIDE and LEAs to refine their distance learning practices and expectations. This policy contains guidance and information about the components necessary if an LEA would like approval for additional distance learning days (pre-determined days paired with staff professional development and/or days to be used if schools need to close due to inclement weather or other unanticipated emergencies). For more details, read the full legislation.

Click here for the Distance Learning Policy (updated September 21, 2021).

LEAs must create a plan for RIDE approval if they intend on using any more than four professional learning days as distance learning days. Additionally, LEAs are only able to request up to five additional distance learning days for approval (not including days needed for quarantine); which includes those being paired with professional learning days AND those that may be used for emergency building closures.

What types of distance learning days need to be included in the plan for approval?


Type of distance learning day

Does it need approval?

I plan on holding distance learning days during the four professional learning days outlined on the RIDE statewide calendar.


I moved my four professional learning days to dates different than the RIDE statewide calendar days and would like to have these four days serve as distance learning days.


I have more than four professional learning days built in to my calendar and would like to use more than four of them as distance learning days.

Yes – LEAs must create a plan for approval if they are requesting any more than 4 distance learning days.

I would like to have the option to implement distance learning days when emergency building closures are necessary.

Yes – LEAs must create a plan for approval if they are requesting possible inclement weather distance learning days.

*NOTE: No more than 5 additional distance learning days can be requested per school year (not including days needed for quarantine).

What is the process for requesting additional distance learning days?

  1. LEAs complete their Distance Learning Plan.
  2. LEAs complete the Request for Additional Distance Learning Days form (pg. 11) and submit to info@ride.ri.gov for approval.
  3. RIDE provides feedback on the attached document. If all required components are in place, RIDE approves plan. If there are required components missing or incomplete, RIDE provides feedback so the LEA can revise their plan accordingly and resubmit.
  4. LEA posts approved plan on website and communicates the plan to their stakeholders and community.