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Snow days go virtual

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

With plenty of inclement weather issues already this winter, Johnson County Schools is implementing a new policy. Missing 18 days this school year—surpassing its built-in day buffer by five—school officials have gone from snow days off to virtual learning days.

The policy may not be permanent but will span the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. According to Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox, officials will re-examine the idea after seeing this year’s results. Substituting virtual learning for snow days would help schools meet mandated learning hours without adding days to the end of the school year.

“As with anything new, we will see how the virtual learning snow days go for this school year and see if this is something we might want to continue in the future after we have used our 13 stockpile days,” explained Simcox. “Our goal is to have the last day of school this year be on May 27 and not have to add any instructional days on to the end of the year, which would have us going to school into June.”

Many schools have to be in session for 180 instructional days. Johnson County is one of several systems that use an extended day system, which creates the 13 stockpile days. Students attend 30 extra minutes of school per day for 167 instructional days instead of the norm.

According to a recent announcement, teachers will provide packets for kindergarten through second-grade students for virtual learning. Older students can request packets as well. Anyone with internet issues will not be punished for missing work but will have to make it up. Teachers are available by email.

School officials hosted their first virtual snow day on January 28 with no significant issues. At the time of this article, Johnson County has implemented virtual learning for eight snow days. Only time will tell if this new virtual system will become the norm, but the virtual use required by the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have eased this transition.

For more information about Johnson County Schools, visit jocoed.net or call Central Office at (423) 727-2640. See up to date information on closings and more on the website or download the Johnson County Schools TN app for notifications directly on your device.