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New Way to Handle Snow Days for Milford Students

The Milford School Committee officially approved a new "Alternative Learning Structure" day which will take the place of a snow cancellation day after the first of the year that is normally a given in New England.

Director of Digital Learning, Informational Technology, and Innovation Dr. Matthew Joseph presented the proposal once again at the December 6 School Committee Meeting, asking for approval

to pilot the Alternative Learning Structure, or what some districts have coined a "blizzard bag." The idea is for students to complete assignments while they are not

in school due to weather cancellations.

The day would then be considered part of the 180 days of school mandated by the Department of Education, and not tacked

on to the end of the school year.

"This is about creating opportunities to maximize learning," said Joseph, referring

to the research on learning efficacy in January/February versus the end of the school year.

During the first school cancellation

day due to snow after January 1, 2019, students will be given assignments – either physical packets or online work – to work on while they are at home. In grades 1-5, Joseph said that the work would be given

in advance for students to have on hand when school is cancelled. If the assignments are not applicable by the time a snow day cancellation happens, the work can easily be switched out as needed.

For students in grades 6-12, lessons and assignments will be received and completed online through Google Classroom or the classroom websites.

In both cases, Joseph said, assignments will not be due the next day.

"We don't know if the power is going to go out for some students, or if they will lose internet," he said. "We also want to allow students to get extra help on the assignments if needed."

Joseph said that the teachers have been asked for a "good faith effort" to be available to answer student questions or to send messages about assignments to students and families.

"This will be counted as a school day and as a work day for teachers by the Department of Education," said Joseph.

The idea of the Alternative Learning Structure day for Milford was brought up in September after a number of districts in Massachusetts have started to explore the idea. Last year, six districts in Massachusetts have already put an

Alternative Learning Structure into place for when school needs to be cancelled, and this coming winter, close to 10 more in the state are planning to pilot it as well.

Last school year, the Milford School district had 6 snow days during the winter which needed to be made up at the end of the school year in June. Although the two years prior to that only saw cancellations of 2 and 3 days, in 2014/15 and in 2012/13 the district had 5 and 6 weather related cancellations, respectively.

Now that the School Committee has approved the pilot of one day in the 2018/2019 school year, the wait begins for the first flakes of snow.

"The goals is to try this one day this year and report back on how it went and to solicit feedback from teachers and families," said Joseph.


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