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Online Instruction Gives Schools Flexibility During Calamities

Many school districts are close to using all of the calamity days they’ve set aside for the school year. Many teachers and parents fear spring breaks might be shortened or extra days might be added to the end of the school year. John Charlton of the Ohio Department of Education tells Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles state law gives school districts leeway to deal with bad weather.

Charlton – The legislation requires that school districts have 178 instructional days so as long as school districts are meeting that minimal requirement, they are going to be okay.  A lot of schools do build 5 calamity days in their schedule and basically that allows them to set their schedule.  If they do have their 5 calamity days then they don’t have to push back their graduation date or add to the school year or adjust their overall schedule.  However, if they do fall short of that minimum number of required days, they will have to add days to their school year or make them up during spring break or something of that nature to make sure they meet that minimum number of required days.

Ingles – Now what about the option of allowing students to do the equivalent of a day’s work at school on their computers at home via the internet?  Is that something schools could employ and do right now?

Charlton – Yes, schools have to first of all, file with the department of education, that they are planning to do what some like to call the blizzard bag program where students can do school work online while they are at home on their snow days.  Or the legislation does require that you make it available in pen and paper version as well so kids can take that home if they don’t have the internet access or the computer access to do that at home.  And it would allow the district to allow the students to complete work and count that as a school day.

Ingles – How many school districts in Ohio have applied and been granted that blizzard bag option?

Charlton – I believe the last I checked, it was about 180 school districts.  And I understand we are still getting some of those applications sent in to us as they are trying to add that as they get close to their number of calamity days.

Ingles – So they could still add that this year if they want to?

Charlton – They could but they need to do it very quickly because the recommended deadline has passed although we are still collecting those plans.  There may be a cutoff at some point. 

The Ohio Department of Education’s John Charlton there are 614 public traditional school districts in Ohio that could use blizzard bags if they applied for and received permission for the program.

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