By MAX FILBY
With nine days off already this school year because of bad weather, McComb students will be heading to class when they normally wouldn’t.
The state allows each school district five “calamity” days a year, and any canceled days after that must be made up. As a result, the McComb school board this week approved holding classes on two holidays and on a teacher inservice day to make up three of the four days. The remaining day will be tacked on to the end of the school year.
McComb students will begin to make up the missed days on Monday, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The second holiday is Presidents Day in February.
If more days need to be made up, the school district is looking into the possibility of having students make up assignments online.
Superintendent Meri Skilliter suggested using the two holidays and the online class method to avoid shortening spring break.
“Many families and staff members have purchased plane tickets for vacations based on the fact that our contingency plan was written to add all days to the end of the year,” Skilliter said. On the other hand, officials don’t want to add too many days to the end of the year.
Skilliter began looking into the possibility of making up days online after receiving inquiries from parents and staff earlier this week.
While proposals for online days needed to be approved by the state before August, Skilliter said she may still be able to submit a proposal for late approval. If approved for McComb schools, the online makeup days could only be used for any future missed days, Skilliter said.
The state allows only three days to be made up through online assignments.
The online program already has been implemented at Vanlue and Van Buren schools.
Vanlue received approval for the online program a year ago but didn’t have to use it until this year, said Nick Rider, technology director for the district.
“Every teacher just has three ‘go to’ lessons for those days,” Rider said. “We think it’s a lot better than going in late June.”
Rider said he has received almost all positive feedback about the use of online calamity days and has had few problems with students completing the lessons within the two weeks allotted to them.
“It’s been really positive and it really lets their parents know how much we’re doing every day,” Rider said.
Students without Internet access at home will receive a “blizzard bag” with printed copies of the lesson that must still be completed within two weeks, Rider said.
Vanlue uses the blizzard bags for about 10 students and McComb plans to use them as well.
Findlay City Schools, which only has used three calamity days so far, will make up its days at the end of the year in the classroom, if needed.
“We find more value in the classroom,” Superintendent Dean Wittwer has said. “We just don’t see students getting as much out of it online.”
But Skilliter said she believes the online program would be a good solution for McComb students.
If approved, it would be a good “option for our school under these unique circumstances,” Skilliter said. “They will be stronger and more educational than days teaching at the end of the year.”
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