Because of the extremely harsh winter and the need to keep students safe, the Norwalk City Schools and Norwalk Catholic School are working with the Ohio Department of Education and the legislature for alternatives to the traditional school day in making up for the many calamity days.
The schools will begin using the Learning on Line/“Blizzard Bag” initiative that will be available for the remainder of the school year in case of the need for more calamity days.
Today is the first day students are utilizing the initiative. School was called off today due to the hazardous weather conditions.
The purpose of the program will be to allow students to complete up to three calamity/snow days through learning online “Blizzard Bag” lesson plans, according to a release from Superintendent Dennis Doughty.
These “blizzard” days will count as “traditional” school days. Students will have up to two weeks to complete their assignments as assigned by their teachers. If the lessons are unavailable online, they will be distributed to the students upon return to school.
The teachers have constructed “Blizzard Bag” lesson plans and assessments, Doughty said.
Students will complete these lessons at home during days designated as calamity days going forward this year. There will be a focus on literacy and written reflections, feedback and data will be collected from teachers to determine the effectiveness of these days.
Students will be marked as having attended school upon the successful completion of the “Blizzard Bag” assignment.
NCS President Wayne Babcanec said he is on board with the program.
“It is the best way to handle this harsh winter we are having,” Babcanec said.
Including today, Norwalk schools has used nine calamity days — four more than the five forgiven by the state. Gov. John Kasich has asked the state legislature to give schools more calamity days this year because of the harsh winter.
All Norwalk students will be in school Feb. 17 (which had been a scheduled day off) to make up one of their calamity days.
“While the legislature is trying to determine how they might be extending additional calamity days, we really don’t have the luxury of waiting for that process,” Doughty said. “We are working to make sure the educational process is disrupted as little as possible during this extremely harsh winter. Certainly these winter months have proven to be a real challenge.”
Babcanec added: “We do not want to take up too many days in the summer and this has been built into our schedule as a calamity day."