Hilliard Northwest News

District will unzip blizzard bag if calamity days pile up


A learning curve will begin for teachers, administrators and students alike if the Hilliard school district has to declare another calamity day.

The district has used all five of the calamity days Ohio law currently affords public schools.

If another is needed, it will mark the first time the district will use a relatively new "blizzard bag" program, in which teachers post assignments online and students have two weeks to complete the assignment and demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter.

The program can be used to recover up to three days of canceled classes, according to state law.

Blizzard bags have been in use in Ohio for two years, but Hilliard has never used the program, Morris said.

This year, because many districts have exhausted their five-day allotment, the State Board of Education took steps to allow districts to begin using the program during the middle of the school year.

"We think this will be a good solution for us this year," said district spokeswoman Amanda Morris.

But there could be a learning curve, she said.

"We anticipate there may be a few bugs in the system," Morris said. "We've never used this option before, so we will naturally have a learning curve for everyone."

How the blizzard bag is communicated might vary among classrooms.

"Whatever channel the teacher normally uses to share information with students and parents is how the teacher will communicate the assignment for blizzard bags," Morris said.

Assignments will be posted by 11 a.m. on a calamity day, Morris said.

Some Hilliard schools, such as Avery Elementary School, already have posted information about where to find blizzard-bag assignments.

"Other schools may wait and post the information on the day of the calamity day," Morris said.

If a student does not have Internet access, he or she will receive the assignment upon their return to class and have the same two weeks to complete the work, Morris said.

As an alternative to blizzard bags, Gov. John Kasich recently asked the state legislature to consider adding calamity days for this school year.

Morris said she was not aware of the bill's timing, so district officials still plan to use blizzard bags to prevent makeup days in June.