Ohio School District Makes Snow Days into Virtual Learning Days

By Amanda Murphy

Making up school calamity days can often be a struggle for school districts. One Ohio school district is piloting an innovative program to ensure students continue their education from home while the district shortens their number of calamity days.

Mississinawa Valley Local School District in Darke County has been granted a waiver from the Ohio Department of Education to provide education online during two calamity days, after their state-issued three are used.

“Mississinawa Schools approached us with a complete proposal. They compiled all of the research and knew how many of their students had access to Internet in their homes,” said Scott Blake, Press Secretary with the Ohio Department of Education.

The school district conducted an informal survey, finding 75% of their students had Internet in their home and 89% had access through a neighbor, friend or relative. The district also held informational meetings for parents.

“We’ve received very positive feedback. Parents say they are glad their children will have something to do during days off school,” said Lisa Wendel, Mississinawa Valley Local School District Superintendent.

The few concerns about the program are whether households with dial-up connections or multiple school-aged children will have any difficulty utilizing online courses. Wendel says students will have two weeks to complete the online lessons if they are unable to do so during the day off school.

The program also allows for classroom innovations.

”This project provides 100% of the staff a reason for extending instruction beyond the walls of their classroom,” Wendel said. “There is an untapped potential of technology that can extend and enhance face to face instruction”.

The University of Dayton is researching the implementation of the program. Their research will assist the Ohio Department of Education’s review of the program’s success. Wendel, as well as the Ohio Department of Education, have received multiple inquiries from school districts throughout Ohio interested in the possible implementation of the program for their own districts.

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