Remote days have replaced snow days in the vocabulary of many area students as districts have opted to have students attend classes in a remote platform rather than canceling school when the weather makes travel difficult.
“We have not had any cancellations. We have either been remote or used flexible instructional days,” said Dr. Brian Ulmer, Jersey Shore Area School District’s Superintendent.
Students at the Loyalsock Township School District do not have any scheduled snow days in reserve, having already used the ones on the school calendar.
“Any more weather days will be remote for Loyalsock,” according to Gerald McLaughlin, Loyalsock’s superintendent.
“We know that nothing can replace the face to face time in the classroom with our teacher, but I believe our teachers have done a fantastic job on the remote days as well as our support staff. I think it’s gone very well and we’ve been prepared for it,” McLaughlin added.
After starting the school year in a hybrid platform where one of the chief complaints was that some students were not logging on for their remote days, the Williamsport Area School District, which has only used one snow day, has chosen to go to a remote platform on days when the weather is an issue.
According to the district, attendance has been running at about 85 percent on these remote days.
McLaughlin admitted that student attendance or rather, non-attendance, was an issue that Loyalsock addressed.
“I think we’re a little frustrated sometimes with the attendance, trying to get all the students online,” McLaughlin said.
“But, I think we’ve addressed the attendance issues and tried to share with our students the importance of being here everyday. Many times I feel they think they can get the work later. A lot of times the work is out there online or assigned online. That’s an opportunity for them to sometimes not participate. We have some students that we don’t have to worry about who will make up the work. I think we have others that definitely need to participate,” he added.
McLaughlin noted that the district does log attendance each period for teachers.
For both Williamsport and Loyalsock students who do not log on and do not provide a valid excuse, the day is counted as an absence.
McLaughlin noted that it would be a remote absence, which could turn into an illegal if no valid excuse is given. Williamsport’s policy is very similar.
Jersey Shore takes a more flexible approach. Instead of counting days attended, they consider whether the assigned work is completed.
“We’re basing that on work completion. If the student does the assigned work then they’re not absent on that day,” Ulmer stated.
“We have been pretty consistent in attendance. If a student has a connection problem, then we work with them to either get work that is on paper or get it made up when they return,” he added.
Ulmer agreed that in general students in his district have been very good about doing the work even though they are not in the classroom.