By Amanda Amsel, Staff Writer
In a special meeting on Feb. 5, the Madison-Plains school board approved the use blizzard bags to make up some of the school days missed as a result of the recent severe weather.
Madison-Plain students have missed 13 days, 10 due to winter weather conditions. Each school district in Ohio only gets five snow days a year, meaning the district has to makeup the other eight days.
“The online learning or ‘blizzard bags’ are a method by the state to make up calamity days without having to make students stay at school longer or extend the school year,” said Madison-Plains Superintendent Bernie Hall. “Students complete assignments online or take work home. That work has to be completed or they get an absence for the day.”
The blizzard bag program was created by the state in 2011 as a result of House Bill 153. School districts can use this concept to make up as many as three calamity days.
“Students get assignments in each of their four basic subjects,” Hall said. “The work should equal to five to six hours a day.”
The assignments vary by grade level and can include such work as completing an activity, writing an essay, solving a problem or reviewing a book.
“These are not just idle assignments to keep students busy,” Hall said. “All the assignments have been approved by the district’s curriculum director and are in line with what the students are currently studying.”
After the blizzard bags program is complete, Madison-Plains will still have five days to make up to complete the school year.
Due to the high number of missed school days across the state, the state legislature is considering an extension on the number of calamity days it forgives, however no decision has been made yet.
If the district has to make up the school days, school officials will likely extend the school year. Another option is to shorten spring break, which would require agreement among school board members, the teachers’ union and non-union staff members.
To view Hall’s official statement about the blizzard bag program, go to mplsd.org/SuperintendentsMessage.aspx.