This post was updated on August 12th, at 11:20am.

In a letter sent to school districts across the state, Rhode Island’s education commissioner Angelica Infante-Green laid out the decision, as well as plans to adjust the statewide academic calendar to accommodate the changes. 

"We have adjusted the calendar to give us all time to get reopening right," Infante-Green wrote.

Teachers will return to school September 9th for three days of professional development. Students will return on Monday September 14th, the new first day of classes. 

On the back end of the academic year, the calendar will be extended, and will now end June 25th, giving students 177 days of school.

Additionally, the state education department will now shift its decision on whether or not students and teachers can return to school buildings to August 31st. Districts have prepared plans for several schooling scenarios, including limited return of in-person classes to a continuation of full virtual learning. 

The new timeline gives schools five extra planning days to work out the logistics of teaching classes safely to the more than 140,000 public school students in the state.

Rhode Island's largest teacher’s unions are pushing for an indefinite pause on any return to in-person classes. Governor Gina Raimondoa and Commissioner Infante-Green are expected to address the unions’ concerns during the weekly press briefing. 

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Rhode Island may delay reopening schools this year by as much as two weeks, as COVID-19 cases rise and districts scramble to prepare.

According to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s office, the scheduled start for public schools statewide, Monday August 31st, may prove to be unfeasible with the new restrictions meant to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

According to a statement by the Governor’s spokesperson, teachers and staff around the state have told state leaders they would benefit from “a couple more weeks to operationalize their plans for in-person learning.”

Over the summer school districts have prepared extensive new cleaning, social distancing, and school building policies, to keep students and staff safe. But those new policies come with heavy demands of staff and resources. 

The development was first reported by Rhode Island's NBC affiliate. During an interview aired on Tuesday, Gov. Raimondo described the scenario as "likely."

It is unclear whether such a delay would affect only in-person classes, or extend to the virtual education programs which schools have also begun to prepare for students who do not want to return to school. The Governor is expected to elaborate during her weekly press conference, Wednesday.

Schools have also planned for multiple scenarios, including a full return to virtual classes in the case that it is unsafe to conduct any in-person lessons. The state is expected to make a decision on how schools should return by next week.

The state's largest teacher's unions want confirmation that the state will delay opening by more than just two weeks if necessary.

The Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, along with the National Education Association Rhode Island are calling for an indefinite delay in the reopening of schools, until their members’ concerns are addressed. 

The unions sent a letter to state leaders outlining their concerns and demands last week. According to polling, the groups found most of their rank and file felt uncomfortable returning to school in any capacity.

Bob Walsh, executive director of NEARI says many parents have already chosen to keep their children home through their districts’ virtual lessons option.

“All parents should pick that option so there’s no other choice right now,” Walsh said Tuesday during a press conference held virtually. “And then work on the exceptions as it becomes safe to do so, and talk about an integrated plan for a slow return of the kids who need to be there the most -- once it’s safe for anybody to be there.” 

Some of the concerns laid out in the letter may be remedied in the next month, including a lack of supplies or staff to carry out new reopening plans. But others, including infrastructure and ventilation needs, could take much longer to fix. 

Governor Gina Raimondo is expected to make an announcement about a possible delay during her weekly address Wednesday.