FOREST CITY | With 10 snow days already in the school year, area school districts are looking for ways to prevent the school year from moving too far into June and to keep the students’ learning consistent throughout the rest of the year.
Forest City Community School District
The Forest City Community School District Board of Directors recently approved two days of e-learning for the rest of this school year and three days of e-learning for next year at their special meeting to help keep the students and the school year on track.
According to a press release from the school district in late January announcing the trial e-learning day, “an e-learning day means students will complete class or grade-level activities/assignments at home, and this day will not be added as a make-up day at the end of the school year.”
In these assignments, teachers had to keep them to be 20 minutes of work per class and make certain they are an extension of their students’ learning, not just busy work.
With the near-perfect success of the trial day, the school board looks to implement these in the future and improve upon them.
“I think the kids are going to get more out of this than they will going to school in the middle of June when it’s nice out and they want to be outside,” said board member Pat Hobbs.
West Hancock Community School District
West Hancock Community School District, on the other hand, does not implement e-learning days. Rather, it has already built 80 extra hours into its school year, which “equates to about 12 extra days of school we put into our calendar,” said Superintendent Wayne Kronemann.
With all the snow days so far, West Hancock only has five extra days to make up, pushing the last day of school from May 23 to May 31.
“We planned for that 30, 40 years ago and added 15 minutes extra to the school day, making 80 extra hours in the school year,” Kronemann said.
The district measures its school year by hours when making its calendar.
Kanawha Christian Academy
Kanawha Christian Academy also uses e-learning days to keep the school day and to make sure the students are still learning.
Administrator Frederick Umar said every student and teacher is required to be online during normal school hours, 7:55 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.
Umar said students in grades pre-kindergarten through second are given a packet of work for the day, which they must complete and turn in the next day of school. Grades three through 12 have an online curriculum, Ignitia by Alpha Omega Publishing with Zoom integrated to ensure group or face-to-face instruction takes place, and the students are given their assignments through date coding so they know what is due for the e-learning days.
The e-learning curriculum was first tested in the 2018 summer session for remedial work and for students who want to work ahead in their classes.
It has been a huge success, according to Umar, but the biggest challenge so far has been educating the parents about the process.
“Parents are used to having children have ‘free snow days’ on days off, but we expect them to work, connect, be present, active and involved – just like any regular classroom day,” Umar said. “The result: we don’t lose a single instructional day of the academic year.”
The school year will end May 15, and their summer session will begin May 20 and end June 28.
Garner-Hayfield-Ventura typically tacks the missed days at the end of the year, pushing the end of the year to June 5, according to GHV Superintendent Tyler Williams.
“This year, with GHV losing 10 days, we will be canceling all early outs (teacher professional development days) for the remainder of the year,” Williams said. “This will make up a couple of student days.”
GHV measures its school day by hours, and all the canceled teacher professional development days will give the school 13 more hours for the school year.
North Iowa Community School District
In a notice to the North Iowa School Community, its superintendent, Joe Erickson, said the school board approved the amended 2018-19 school calendar.
Starting Monday, March 11, the school day will begin at 8:10 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m., with no changes to the bus schedule, and the lunch period will be shortened to a 25-minute period.
Early dismissal for March 13, April 10, May 8 and May 29 has been canceled, and the third quarter end date was pushed from March 15 to March 22.
“The calendar changes we are making are expected to make up about 32 hours (about 4 days) of student instruction,” Erickson wrote.
Erickson said the school year end date has not been set yet but they will continue to communicate with the North Iowa School community over the next several weeks.