By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
For Jonathan Alder Local Schools students, Feb. 5 was the 11th school day called off due to bad weather. It was also the first day they were instructed to access their “blizzard bags.”
“Blizzard bag” is the term used for one day’s worth of assignments posted online for students to retrieve and work on at home during a calamity day. The Ohio Department of Education developed the concept as an alternative way for schools to make up lost days.
The state forgives up to five calamity days, after which school districts must find ways to make up any excess calamity days.
Early in January, before the excess days really started to pile up, the Jonathan Alder school board designated Feb. 17 (Presidents Day) and April 21 (the day after Easter) as make-up days.
After several more days were lost due to weather, the school board met Jan. 30 and adopted the blizzard bag plan for up to three days of instruction affected by school closings. Together with the Feb. 17 and April 21 make-up dates, the district has five of its six excess calamity days covered. The district could add another blizzard bag day to make up the sixth day.
With the blizzard bag plan, once a school closing is announced, teachers post assignments in all subject areas on the district’s website, www.alder.k12.oh.us. Students can complete the assignments at home during the calamity day. They have two weeks from the date of the missed day to complete the assignments and return them to their teachers. Students who do not have internet access will receive paper copies of assignments once school resumes; they have two weeks from the time they receive the assignments to finish and turn them in.
In a letter to parents explaining the plan, Superintendent Gary Chapman wrote, “We are excited to be able to provide your child with this opportunity for uninterrupted instruction in the event of future calamity days. We also ask for your patience and flexibility as we work to implement this new plan and support students in their work.”
Parents who have questions about the blizzard bags are encouraged to call their student’s principal. For general information, go to www.alder.k12.oh.us.