SIDNEY – Local school districts are rescheduling days or giving students online assignments as a result of Thursday’s canceled classes, even though state regulations don’t require them to do so.
Ohio Department of Education regulations require schools to be open for instruction for a minimum number of hours – 455 hours for students in half-day kindergarten, 910 hours for students in full-day kindergarten through sixth grade and 1,001 hours for students in seventh grade through high school.
Some local superintendents said they’ll easily reach the required number of hours of instruction by the end of the school year, but they’re still rescheduling missed days or utilizing blizzard bags to make up for missed classroom time.
“We believe we should make up days to give kids as much education as possible,” Russia Local School Superintendent Steve Rose said.
Thursday marked the sixth day this school year that Russia has canceled classes because of weather. As a result, the district has scheduled a make-up day for March 13.
The New Bremen and New Knoxville school districts both announced they have scheduled make-up days for April 9. Sidney City Schools, which has missed five days of classes this year, plans to schedule a make-up date if it misses more than seven days of classes.
Like Russia, Thursday also marked the sixth day of canceled classes this school year for Fairlawn Local Schools. But instead of rescheduling a day of in-class instruction, Fairlawn used its first of three possible blizzard bag days.
“Kids are much better off when they’re in school with their teacher,” Fairlawn Superintendent Jeff Hobbs said. “This is somewhat of a happy medium.”
Fairlawn’s blizzard bags are online assignments that students can complete while they’re out of school. This is the second year the district has utilized blizzard bags.
For middle school and high school students, Hobbs said, the blizzard bags provide a great experience of turning in assignments online – a skill they may need in future college courses or in jobs. Younger students can access assignments online but generally turn them in when they return to class.
Fairlawn students have two weeks to complete blizzard bag assignments and can get physical copies if needed once classes resume. Teachers are available by email and sometimes by phone if students need assistance, Hobbs said.
“We just feel like we need to continue to get better academically with our kids,” Hobbs said of having the blizzard bags and going above the state requirements.
Hardin-Houston Local School Superintendent Ryan Maier said his district has canceled nine days of classes this year. It already made up one missed day of classes on Presidents Day even though it’s on track to easily reach the required number of hours without doing so.
“We still are way above the minimum, which is obviously what we want to do,” Maier said.
And even though students weren’t in class Thursday, Hardin-Houston staff members did work and made preparations for when students return to the classroom.
While there are different approaches to approaching canceled classes, each of the superintendents said their priority is providing the best possible education for their students.
“As good stewards of the tax payer money, we believe we should provide a quality education and make these days up,” Rose said.
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