Frequently Asked Questions: Blizzard Bags!
Gateway is piloting Blizzard Bags this winter, to see if they are an effective alternative to making up snow days by extending the school calendar in June. Our first snow day was December 19th, and a number of questions came up that we hope to answer here. If you have additional questions, please address them to Dr. Hopson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
QUESTION: Students seem to have different due dates for completing blizzard bag work, how does this work?
Because the initial rollout occurred so rapidly, not all staff were prepared to provide blizzard bag work the day before our first snow day (made more challenging because the day before was a Friday). Moving forward, we expect that most students will have their work before the cancellation and will then have 5 school days (unless the assignment is part of an ongoing class assignment that is scheduled to be completed at an earlier time and the students are aware of this prior to the day being cancelled to provide them time to fully understand the expectations) to complete and return their ‘blizzard bag’ work. Depending on the situation (i.e., a teacher or student absence) work may not be provided prior to the cancelled school day and therefore that assignment will have a later due date to allow time for students to complete that work outside of the missed day of school.
QUESTION:What if a student doesn’t complete the work?
If a student doesn’t complete their work within the allotted time, then that student is considered absent for that day and the assignment is graded as a zero for that class. For students in high school, where period attendance is taken, that absence would count towards the total allowed absences per semester, before credit for that course is lost.
QUESTION: What happens if we have school cancelled for more than one day in a row?
Unless there are unusual circumstances, only the first day of that particular cancellation would be eligible for a ‘blizzard bag’ day, while the second and subsequent days would need to be made up at the end of the year, which may extend the end of the school year past June 9th.
QUESTION: My child doesn’t have internet access at home, how do they complete the work?
Every teacher should provide the ability for their students to complete their assigned work without needing access to the internet at home. Please make sure your child’s teacher knows that you do not have internet access at home.
QUESTION: My child has special needs and an education plan with special accommodations. How can these be met at home?
Students with additional support needs (ELL, 504, IEP) will have their assignments modified based upon their needs. This may include providing additional time and resources for these students when they return to school.
QUESTION: What if my child or I have a question about the assignment?
You may email the question or concern to the teacher. The teacher may respond that day or may clarify the issue the next school day. The blizzard bag proposal includes individually extending deadline dates if students have difficulty understanding or completing the assignment and notify the teacher of those issues.
QUESTION: How do Blizzard Bags impact the last day of school? I thought we had 5 days built into the calendar?
If you look at the original 2016-17 calendar, you will notice the last (180th) day of school was June 9. June 16 is listed as the 185th day - meaning 180 days of school plus 5 snow days. At this writing (1/27/17) we've had 3 snow days: one in December (Blizzard Bag day), one on January 17 (NOT a Blizzard Bag Day) and one on January 24 (Blizzard Bag Day). The Blizzard Bag days count as a regular day of school. We did not use Blizzard Bags on January 17, meaning it counted as our first snow day, which must be made up this year. At this writing (1/27/17) our last day of school is now Monday, June 12. Any additional snow days that we have that are NOT Blizzard Bag days, will be added on.
(Last updated 2/10/17)
12/9/16 Update: First Blizzard Bag Day Could be Monday! If some of the weather forecasts hold and we are forced to cancel school on Monday, this will be the first day that Gateway uses the idea of “Blizzard Bags” in order to have work that would be planned for that day count towards the required 180 days of school. While Blizzard Bags are described in more detail below, Gateway is currently transitioning from the planning to implementation process and we expect that there may be several ‘bumps’ along the way that will require some flexibility and modifications as we proceed. Currently our staff have some excellent initial plans for student work and many of them will have provided that work to students this Friday while others may choose to wait until Tuesday to provide students with their specific assignments. Because this is the first time using this idea, each building principal has the authority to provide additional flexibility to staff and students in assigning and completing this work. It has been the intent from the beginning to make this program flexible enough to meet the diverse needs of all staff and students from kindergarten to high school while still maintaining the needed rigor and relevance of the work to move students ahead in their studies without having to make up the missed day. We look forward to feedback from everyone as we implement and revise this program to meet Gateway’s needs.
Making Snow Days Count: Blizzard Bag Proposal for the Gateway Regional School District
Frequently Asked Questions About The Blizzard Bag Proposal (October 2016)