North Hills schools implement alternative to snow days


Robin Cleary

North Hills students will no longer miss school days due to inclement weather.

David Heilman, North Campus Staff

Heavy snow will no longer be a sign of a break to students of the North Hills School District.
The school district has been approved to begin the Pennsylvania Flexible Instructional Day, program starting in the 2021-2022 class year and continuing for three years.
The program allows the district five days to replace any unexpected school closings without having to make up the day using “scheduled vacation periods,” by instead assigning students classwork to be completed at home.
Faculty are creating a series of lesson plans and assignments for each subject and grade level to made available online. These plans are scheduled to be complete and available for use by the beginning of the second semester on Jan. 13, 2020.
The student will be required to fill out and submit an online form to ensure their participation. All students who fail to do so will be counted as absent for the day.
The student then follows the lesson plan for each scheduled class they would take in the missed day. This is designed so that the student will take the same amount of time they would normally spend in class, simulating a classroom experience at home.
For children in kindergarten through fourth grade, the lesson plans will instead be provided in physical packages ahead of time called “blizzard bags.” Each packet will contain an assignment for each of the four core courses—english, math, science, and social studies—that the student is expected to complete. In addition, the student is expected to complete the assignment that corresponds to one of six rotational classes that the student takes during the day missed.
Some parents, such as Clifton Munz-Phelps, a father of two enrolled in a North Hills elementary have taken a positive perspective on the changes. “As a parent who has the luxury to work from home, I feel the option for students to learn from home is fantastic. As businesses decentralize and the workforce becomes available remotely, it seems logical to have students become comfortable with balancing (school)work and home life.”
The students are not the only ones who are required to participate. Faculty members will be required to respond to any questions brought to them through email or google classroom within 30 minutes of being received.
“This is going to be quality instruction,” said North Hills School District Superintendent Dr. Patrick J. Mannarino in a press release. “I don’t want to have any wasted days in education.”
An unfinalized window of completion of the material will be offered as a safeguard to students who may be cut off from power or do not have regular access to a computer.
Further details of the program will continue to come out as the program comes closer to being implemented. A complete overview, held for the board of education and open to the public, will be held in the middle school on Dec. 3.