Keeping the Education Fires Burning

There’s no business like snow business (poor pun, I get it). But with our state and many other parts of the country continuing to suffer from Mother Nature’s wrath, K-12 schools are among those using that refrain. After all, most have to determine how to make up time lost to snow, cold, wind and other wintry elements.

In Ohio, at least some schools replaced snow days with “E-Days,” which are pre-approved times during which teachers post online assignments and are on “on call” to answer questions.

A follow-up noted that many parents enjoyed the coursework and praised the benefits of seeing their child’s schoolwork firsthand, while others complained about the time-consuming nature of the assignments. Outside observers noted the benefit of increasing parental engagement in education.

A few additional details from The Daily Standard in Celina:

Fort Recovery Superintendent Shelly Vaughn said each E-Day is considered by the state to be a full day of instruction.   Because students already missed so many days of school this semester, Vaughn said it made sense to use the online tool.

E-Days are an Ohio Department of Education-approved online calamity day plan in which students access class assignments on the E-Day Portal on the school’s web site. Students have two weeks to complete the work. Districts are limited to three E-Days per school year.   All district teachers submitted E-Day plans to Vaughn by Nov. 1. Knowing that inclement weather was expected, teachers last week adjusted the plans according to the content they were currently teaching, Vaughn said.

Teachers were on call during the three bad weather days to respond to emails from students and parents about the assignments.   Response from parents regarding the new system was mixed. Some claimed the experience was positive and they enjoyed helping their children. Others liked discovering what their children are learning in school and added they were glad to see their youngsters’ minds active on a snow day.

Other parents, especially those with multiple children in school, expressed frustration and anger, pointing out the problem of having only one computer, assignments that were time-consuming and the need for much paper and printer ink.   Not all parents are able to stay at home with their kids and some felt they were being forced to take on the duties of teachers.   Some parents questioned the quality of the education their children received through the E-Day lessons, wondering if making the days up at the end of the school year would have been better for the students.

Vaughn said like anything the district attempts for the first time, school officials will reflect on the matter and learn how to make it work better next time. They intend to survey students and parents about the process, she said.   “We already know of two areas we would specifically address for next time: improved communication to students and parents about how the lessons could be done virtually paperless or copies of needed papers could be provided in advance, (and) more detailed plans about modifications necessary for students on IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) to successfully complete E-Day work,” Vaughn said.

“As a full time administrator and parent of three children in the school system, I believe the E-Days are a creative way for students to utilize technology and work with their teachers in a different format,” she said. “As a principal, I looked at the E-Days the teachers set up in grades K-3 and found them to be a very educationally sound way to make up missed days of school.”