School District seeks input on “Blizzard bags”

 SOUTHWICK – On Tuesday night, the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District issued a request for parents to take a survey regarding blizzard bags.

The school committee is looking at the possibility of implementing blizzard bags into the school district for the 2018-19 school year and Superintendent Jen Willard says that it’s important to get feedback from the parents.

“We wanted to make sure that it’s something they (parents) wanted because it does affect our community,” said Willard. “It’s best to get some community input.”

Superintendent Jen Willard. (WNG File Photo)

According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, “blizzard bags” is another name for an alternative structured learning day in which is a solution to when the district is closed due to weather. This program helps the school district meet the requirements of making sure elementary school students reach the required 900 hours of learning, 990 hours for secondary schools, and a total 180 days.

The concept involves students doing some type of work or assignment from home. Willard said that the district has a certain model that they may want to use if the school committee chooses to approve the program. Since Willard wants parents to give their honest opinion about blizzard bags in the four-question survey, she didn’t want to reveal what type of model the district may plan on using.

Despite the survey just being made available to parents, Willard was happy to report that the district has already received over 500 responses to the survey. The feedback is off to a great start since she noted that the district on average gets a 20% response rate from their surveys. The plan is to have the survey continue to be available to parents for another week.

“We’re already well over 20%,” said Willard.

Willard added that one of the main reasons why the school committee first looked at the idea of implementing blizzard bags last year, is due to the fact that the school district tends to cancel school days more often than other schools. The cause of that is because of the geographical locations of their communities.  Moving forward, the school committee will present the results of the surveys at their next meeting on Tuesday, February 6.

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