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Greenon to consider ‘blizzard bag’ option

Shawnee, Springfield-Clark CTC already using program.

Greenon Local Schools will consider adding a “blizzard bags” option as a way to make up calamity days lost this winter at today’s board meeting.

House Bill 153, signed into law in 2011, allows online lessons and “blizzard bags” to be used by districts to make up work students would be doing had there not been a snow day. “Blizzard bag” is a term used for physical copies of the assigned work. A district can erase up to three calamity days using this option. Clark-Shawnee Local and Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center are the only Clark County districts currently using this option.

“With where we are at here at the end of January, we’re interested in looking into pursuing that as an option,” said Greenon Superintendent Dan Bennett. “It doesn’t mean that we will (be using it).”

So far, Greenon has used eight calamity days district-wide, and nine for Greenon High School and Hustead Elementary School.

“As an administrative team, we just really value classroom instructional time,” said Bennett. “But this has been a devastating winter so far in terms of having school. If February turns out like January has, we want to have options.”

Bennett said his staff has been able to use some of the time calamity days afforded to research the “blizzard bags” option. He also talked to several districts already using them. One of them is Clark-Shawnee.

“We’re just really beginning,” said Shawnee Superintendent Gregg Morris. “Our students are in the process of doing the work for the first day and they get two weeks to do that. We’ve had this in place for a year or two, but this is the first year we’ve had to use it.”

Shawnee assigned “blizzard bag” work Friday that is due Feb. 7, and that was to cover its sixth calamity day. The district plans to assign more work on Feb. 7 or 10 to make up for its seventh day missed on Monday and has the the option of issuing more work to make up for Tuesday’s eighth calamity day.

“The biggest problem we’ve anticipated is Internet access,” said Brian Kuhn, Clark-Shawnee’s assistant superintendent, who took the lead in establishing the program. “So we had a lot of teachers who provided hard copies to everyone, particularly in the primary grade levels. Another anticipated problem is confusion over the due date.

“It’s hard to know what bugs we have until we get closer to that due date.”

Added Morris: “But there will be bugs.”

Shawnee’s biggest problem was Springfield-Clark CTC’s biggest reason for using the “blizzard bag” option.

“We call them ‘E-days,’ ” said Springfield-Clark CTC Superintendent Rick Smith. “We’re a ‘one-to-one school,’ meaning all our students have laptops. As long as they have an Internet connection somewhere, they can access assignments on line.”

Just like Shawnee, CTC’s students get two weeks to finish the work — in case Internet access is hard for them to find.

“It makes a big difference,” said Smith. “We’re lucky to be able to give our students the technology to use. Because of the career technical programming, a lot of our work is hands on. But there’s still book work to do.”

On Monday, it was announced that the state would pursue adding some calamity days to the current allotment of five.

“I would like to still be able to have it as an option,” said Bennett. “We might still be able to use it as something to help supplement what we are able to do in class.”

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