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APS responds to blizzard bag concerns

4/17/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

By the time you read this, blizzard bags will already be in use in Akron Public Schools (APS). For the writer who authored last week’s letter here [“APS parent speaks out against blizzard bags,” April 10, 2014, West Side Leader] questioning our use of this instructional method, we would like to respond.

The blizzard bag solution for making up our three calamity days from this harsh winter has been thoughtfully and thoroughly prepared and implemented for our 21,000 students. Every student is being given the opportunity to make up the lost class time before, during and after school. The writer neglected to mention that students, during noninstructional periods, are being afforded time to work on the makeup lessons.

Further, her concerns about students who may have limited computer access are unfounded. If a student does not have access to a computer at home or at another community-based site (e.g., public library, friend’s home, family member’s home), the student’s school will provide the opportunity for completion of the lessons before or after school, or during the school day through noninstructional times (e.g., lunch time, LRC time, study halls).

Other items to note about this program to reassure the community:

  • Students will attend training at school before their lessons are posted that will explain how to access lesson activities.
  • Many lessons are using software that students already use within their classrooms, so it should be familiar to them.
  • Through the posted lessons online, students and parents will find detailed descriptions of how to complete each lesson, the time involved in completing the lesson and the lesson activity.
  • Students will be asked to complete the online blizzard lessons during a three-week period of time.
  • Per our online blizzard plan and state law, if a student fails to complete his/her online lessons, the student will be counted absent for the makeup days.
  • If a student needs help with how to log in or where to access lessons, help is available at each school.
  • There will also be a district help line that will be posted on our online blizzard lesson pages for all other technology or account supports.
  • Students with significant disabilities will receive blizzard lessons designed specifically to match his or her learning level.

We appreciate the letter writer’s thoughtfulness and concern. And while there are few perfect solutions, we believe this is a wise alternative and an appropriate use of technology to satisfy our need to make up missed lessons.

Mark Williamson, communications director, Akron Public Schools

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