General Assembly approves bill that allows extended absences due to COVID-related interruptions
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today approved legislation introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) and Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) that addresses the unique educational challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has generated.
The bill (2022-H 7062, 2022-S 2572) would provide that in developing alternative-learning plans, consideration would be given to the unique difficulties and interruptions that many students have experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 significantly changed in-person learning and access to school-based services, which had a profound effect on the psychological well-being of our children,” said Representative McNamara, who chairs the House Education Committee. “This legislation would allow alternatives that may not be preferable under ordinary circumstances, such as extended breaks in study.”
Alternative learning plans include extended learning opportunities as independent study, private instruction, performing groups, internships, community service, apprenticeships, and online courses that are currently funded and available to the school department and the community
“The mental health concerns of our students have been growing,” said Senator Cano, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. “The pandemic has brought several new mental health challenges for our kids, and we need policies that address that, such as this legislation that acknowledges pandemic-related difficulties. By supporting students’ mental health needs, we will help them come to school better prepared to learn.”
This act would also authorize the granting of extended absences from school that is not intended to be permanent, but is permitted because of the pandemic’s unique difficulties and interruptions.
The measure now moves to the governor’s office.