Health & Safety

In 1994, we launched the Rhode Island  Coordinated School Health Program, now known as "thrive,” with funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thrive is designed to prevent serious health problems and to improve educational outcomes by ensuring that our schools are safe and healthy places for teaching and learning.

"School success and academic achievement are built on a strong foundation of healthy students who learn in safe and caring school environments."

Coordinated School Health

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School health starts with partnerships at the state, school, and community levels - involving families and other stakeholders. Together, we can create coordinated activities across areas of:

  • health education, 
  • nutrition, 
  • physical education
  • HIV/AIDS & sexuality education, 
  • bullying and school violence, 
  • along with other components of school health.

The thrive website is the central source of information about health and safety in Rhode Island schools.

RI’s Coordinated School Health Program – thrive:

As partners, the Rhode Island Departments of Education and Health work to build infrastructure supports with state, school, and community partners to help create safe, healthy, and nurturing schools that reduce barriers to learning. Aligned with the Rhode Island Department of Education Strategic PlanBasic Education Program (BEP), and Health and Physical Education Frameworksthrive has also been successful in:

  • Effecting legislative, regulatory, and policy changes,
  • Collecting, analyzing, and interpreting school health data,
  • Developing and implementing policy,
  • Improving standards-based curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and
  • Designing and providing professional development opportunities for school administrators, policy-makers, teachers, parents, students, and community organizations.

Healthy School Components include:

Physical education is a curricular-based program that is comprehensive, sequential and developmentally appropriate for grades K-12 that promotes lifelong physical activity. It helps students to develop the knowledge, motor skills, self-management skills, social skills, attitudes and confidence needed to adopt and maintain physical activity throughout their lives.

Sexuality education includes human growth and development; personal skills; relationships; disease control and prevention; sexual health and behavior; family life; and societal and cultural issues. Sexuality is complex and it encompasses emotional, physical and social changes and factors. It includes gender, gender identity, body image, and sexual orientation. 

School safety involves a comprehensive and integrated approach to develop a full continuum of programs and services encompassing efforts to promote positive development, prevent problems, respond early, and offer interventions and resources to promote school safety.

Before and after school programs provide supervised and structured expanded learning opportunities for children and youth. These programs offer a critical service for working parents, as well as an opportunity for children and youth to build social, academic and life skills.

Nutrition promotes health and wellness as well as learning and academic achievement. Schools provide a broad range of programs, services and nutrition education for students in grades K-12. The RI Department of Education is responsible for administering major U.S. Department of Agriculture Child Nutrition Programs.

Health services are programs and services provided to students to assess, protect, and promote health. Schools employ qualified professionals such as physicians, nurses, dentists, and other allied health personnel to provide these services.

Family and community engagement encourages schools, families, and the community to work together to promote the health, well-being and learning of all students. Family and community involvement fosters partnerships among schools, families, community groups and individuals so that all students succeed in school.

Healthy school buildings and school grounds include policies and protocols that must be in place to ensure food protection, sanitation, safe water supply, healthy air quality, good lighting, safe playgrounds, and emergency evacuation, among other issues that relate to healthy school buildings.

Other Health & Safety Issues

In addition to the above components of thrive, you can find more information on the following issues here on the RIDE website:

Bullying undermines the safe learning environment that students need to achieve their full potential. The RI Statewide Bullying Policy [PDF, 168KB] was promulgated pursuant to the authority set forth in §16-21-34 of the General Laws of Rhode Island. Known as the Safe School Act, the statute recognizes that the bullying of a student creates a climate of fear and disrespect that can seriously impair the student's health and negatively affect learning. The purpose of the Policy is to ensure a consistent and unified statewide approach to prohibiting bullying at school. Review our summary and frequently asked questions of the new RI Statewide Bullying Policy [PDF, 182KB]. Additional information on bullying is available at

For data on bullying and school safety, see Bullying & School Violence.

The Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is committed to ensuring safe and supportive learning environments for all Rhode Island youth. It is imperative that the school system, along with family and education professionals, be supportive role models and strong advocates for the safety and well-being of children. All students need a safe and supportive school environment to progress academically and developmentally.  The Guidance for Rhode Island Schools on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students includes a state and federal statutory framework to guide local policies.  The guidance also contains resources and best practices to support youth.  The Regulations Governing Protections for Students Rights to be Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression ensure that all public school districts develop a policy to support youth, emphasizing the State's commitment to safe and supportive learning environments.

A safe school environment, free of bullying, teen dating violence and sexual violence, is possible when all members of a community work together to affect change at many levels. The purpose of the following document, A Guide to Preventing Bullying, Teen Dating Violence, and Sexual Violence in Rhode Island Schools [PDF, 994 KB], is to help districts develop, in every school, a response and prevention strategy that engages and empowers administration, faculty, students and parents to take action against abuse.


School health education, health services, and school environment are guided by the RI Rules and Regulations for School Health Programs.

These regulations apply to all public and non-public schools. These regulations are jointly promulgated by the Departments of Education and Health, and are periodically updated to align with new statutes, best practices, and emerging issues.

Health Education is required for all students in grades 1-12 according to RI General Laws. Students should receive an average of 100 minutes per week of health and physical education. This does not include recess, free play, or after-school activities. Specific requirements for health education are outlined in Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Rules and Regulations for School Health Programs

The health services that are provided in RI schools are guided by the RI Rules and Regulations for School Health Programs. Required health services include screenings, records review, acute care, chronic disease management, and health risk prevention.

Policies and protocols must be in place to ensure food protection, sanitation, safe water supply, healthy air quality, good lighting, safe playgrounds, and emergency evacuation, among other issues that relate to healthy school buildings. Sections 21 through 42 of the Rules and Regulations for School Health Programs outline all of the requirements for building and maintaining a healthy school.