Ohio schools may get leniency on their schedules from the state, but Toledo Public Schools has a backup plan if extra snow days are not provided.
District schools have been closed for eight days so far this winter because of snow or cold, three more than the TPS schedule allows under state law.
State lawmakers have proposed one-time legislation that would lower the minimum number of instruction days for schools that closed because of bad weather, but if those bills fail, TPS and many other districts would have to make up class time in the summer.
Those days, however, would be after state tests are administered. District officials announced Wednesday they are preparing another contingency: they are creating plans to make up several days using online coursework or, for students without home Internet access, take-home materials.
“We wanted to ensure that we were proactive,” Superintendent Romules Durant said.
While Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers have proposed school-calendar amnesty, they have not proposed a delay in the Ohio Achievement Assessments or Ohio Graduation Tests.
That means school days lost this winter result in less preparation time for those high-stakes tests. High school graduations, teacher evaluations, and the state’s new third-grade reading guarantee rule all rely on those tests’ results.
Ohio allows schools to use the online option to make up some of the days; the take-home alternative is referred to as “blizzard bags.”
Mr. Durant said Wednesday district administrators will submit a plan to the Ohio Department of Education for the homework option, in light of legislative uncertainty and the risk of more winter-related problems.
Students would receive material in April to complete during spring break to cover up to three of the lost days. Students who don’t complete the material would be marked absent for those days.
District officials said staff would soon begin work to prepare curriculum for the at-home makeup material.
Toledo schools and many other districts across the region were closed Wednesday for a third straight day during Toledo’s second bout this winter with sub-zero cold, but warmer weather was in the forecast for today.
Temperatures hovered near zero early Wednesday, with wind chills in the teens below zero, before warming up to the mid-teens during the afternoon at Toledo Express Airport. The overnight low of -3 marked the 11th day this month that the mercury in Toledo has fallen below zero, and the month’s 39.5-inch snow total to date has shattered the previous January record of 30.8 inches in 1978.
Forecasters said area temperatures would rise into the 20s today and Friday, and possibly return to the freezing mark Saturday. But that warm-up was likely to be accompanied by new, albeit light, snowfall starting late Thursday night and continuing through Saturday before clearer and colder weather returns.
Staff writer David Patch contributed to this report.