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Virtual School Option In Place of Snow Days To Continue Learning

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Virtual School Option In Place of Snow Days To Continue Learning

When snow or ice strike this winter, local school systems have a new tool, implementing virtual days in place of snow days.

Putnam County Director of Schools Corby King said the state put the new policy in place last year. King said the virtual days are helpful because they can be used for a single school or grade level, not just district-wide.

“If we’re going to be out for an extended period of time, or maybe it’s just a short break, but we don’t need to just completely stop everything,” King said. “It’s nice to have the capability of function to provide just, even if it’s little small assignments, something for the students to focus on and work on while they’re at home.”

King said during a stretch of high absenteeism last flu season, schools were struggling to find substitute teachers. He said the district used a virtual day for high schools, freeing up enough substitutes for middle and elementary schools.

“Hopefully, we’ve got the information on-site at schools so we know what students have internet access, and devices at home, and the capability to log in and complete their assignments, and which ones need assistance with that,” King said “The ones who don’t have devices and need assistance, we have to assign those and give them out.”

Many of the resources used for virtual days are things that were first employed during COVID-19, but it still takes time to get devices and plans parceled out, King said. He said the days can be used for severe weather with enough notice, but planning and preparing for a virtual day typically takes at least 24 hours.

King said the new rule assists the system in keeping up with minimum school day requirements and keep students focused on days off.

He said the state requires that schools complete 180 days each year, which can become a challenge if too many snow days are being used. King said Putnam County Schools have 13 snow days built in, some of which were added by tacking on an extra 30 minutes of school each day. Even if schools are on pace to reach the 180-day mark, it is important to keep students engaged on days off.

“Sometimes, it’s just hard when we’re out, especially over an extended period of time,” King said. “Student learning loss, academic slide, those are real things.”


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