Parkville school virtually works off snow days so summer will come sooner

Students sub class time with online class

PARKVILLE, Missouri - Schools across the state are struggling with trying to make up for all the snow days they used during the winter. Missouri requires schools to have a minimum of 174 instructional days in a school year and more and more districts do not build in many snow days. Therefore, the days missed due to weather must be made up and that is usually done by extending the school year.

St. Therese Catholic School in Parkville is taking part in a pilot program that is trying to make up snow days without adding days to the school calendar and days in the classroom. By using professional development days, students work online, not in the classroom. It takes time for teachers to develop lessons for students so these make up days are being planned weeks in advance.

"It would be hard to do it spontaneously and just get ready for a virtual day the next day," said Principal Carol Hussin. "However, if we had a big blizzard and we had four or five days we were home, we might consider doing that if it looked like a week –long event."

Six students gathered at Latteland to work together. Sixth grader, Dylan Bassham, joined a live webinar with a classmate and learned about Earth Day from someone in Philadelphia.

"We're not getting off any easier that we are in school," said Bassham.

That's exactly the point. The virtual day is supposed to be just like going to school. Each student is expected to work for five to six hours and every one of the 640 students will take part.

A few doors down from Latteland, Alex Diaz is working on a computer at his mother's business. He says the teachers have done a good job preparing the students for their first virtual day.

"Sometimes the pages don't open up but it works out. The teachers gave us directions on if the pages don't work," he says.

Alex's mother, Mindy, likes the idea of a virtual day too, "if he has to be in here working a day in April, it's better than doing it in June when it is nice out."

Hussin says they will examine the effectiveness of the virtual day over the next week. If it is found to be a success, she says they will use this new tool next year if the need arises.

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