Power outages from Wednesday’s storm made distance learning difficult

COVENTRY, R.I. (WLNE) – Thousands of Rhode Islanders woke up to downed trees and no power or wifi.

In West Warwick, branches snapped off of a tree on Harley Street blocking the road. In Barrington and Coventry, National Grid was dispatched to several areas as most people woke up in the dark.

Outages at schools also led to several districts to cancel in-person class.

Jennifer O’Neill, a mom of three in Coventry, says her family lost power and wifi early Wednesday morning. Her kids couldn’t do distance learning because they had no power.

“We got woken up by the electricity going on and off,” O’Neill said. “I didn’t really think about it at first, but then I realized we didn’t have wifi. I was like, oh gosh, how are we going to do this?”

O’Neill says the school responded quickly and sent out a memo to parents saying there would be no in-person class and that those distance learning without power shouldn’t worry.

“They had stuff they could do offline and then they said pretty much not to worry about their work or not being able to get online today,” O’Neill said.

Coventry wasn’t the only district to make that call. Hope Highlands Middle School in Cranston and Kingston Hill Academy both ditched in-person classes for the day due to power outages.

“So, we’re just taking it as it is,” O’Neill said. “Maybe play some board games… just hangout.”

O’Neill says while it’s nice for one day, it is concerning as the weather gets colder. The state already said there will be no snow days this year.

“It’s a learning situation,” O’Neill said. “This comes up and then they’ll make modifications to their plan and be a little more prepared in the future.”

A spokesperson for RIDE says when school in-person or virtually is not practical, there are options. Schools can request a waiver from the commissioner to get that day of instruction off of the calendar. Or, they can choose to add a day at the end of the school year.

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