September 20, 2014

Medina
Partly sunny
61°F

Homework piles up along with the snow

Paige Armstrong, who attends Sidney Fenn Elementary School in Medina, works on 95 long-division problems assigned to her during her time off school this week. (PHOTO COURTESY OF KATHY ARMSTRONG)

Paige Armstrong, who attends Sidney Fenn Elementary School in Medina, works on 95 long-division problems assigned to her during her time off school this week. (PHOTO COURTESY OF KATHY ARMSTRONG)

Teachers at many local schools piled on the homework Monday in an attempt to keep students up-to-date with their schoolwork.

The seven districts serving Medina County were closed Tuesday and today. Four of the districts — Black River, Buckeye, Cloverleaf and Wadsworth — also were closed Monday.

All the districts have surpassed the five calamity-day limit. But they may not have to make up the days. On Monday, Gov. John Kasich asked state lawmakers to raise the cap because of the unusually cold winter.

And teachers are hoping the extra homework will keep students on track.

“I understand the extra work. They don’t want them to fall behind,” said Kathy Armstrong, mother of fourth-grader Paige and sixth-grader Megan Armstrong.

Armstrong said her fourth-grader brought home 95 long-division math problems from class at Sidney Fenn Elementary School, along with homework in other subjects.

Her sixth-grader attends Claggett Middle School.

Because of some testing, Megan didn’t attend all her normal classes Monday and may have missed some of the homework assigned, Armstrong said.

Armstrong said she stayed home from work Tuesday and has been helping her children complete their work.

On the other days, she said she’s relied on the help of stay-at-home moms and family to stay home with her children during the days school has been canceled.

“I think it’s good they canceled. I have one student that walks to a bus stop and one who gets picked up at the end of the driveway,” she said. “It’s just too cold out there.”

She said her daughters seem willing to do the extra work, especially when she explained that falling behind might mean more work to do next weekend or later in the year.

In addition to making up schoolwork, Armstrong also has to take her girls to Canton for swim practice. They’re on the Firestone Swim team, and can’t get into their normal practice pool because the school is closed.

“We’re driving out to Canton just for swim practice,” she said.

While Medina Schools are sending out extra assignments to keep kids current on their studies, teachers at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School sent home “blizzard bags” that provide enough materials for the students to do so the school won’t be charged with a calamity day, even though the school closed.

In an email from St. Francis Principal Bibiana Seislove, parents were told that “blizzard bags” are an older term from when make-up work from snow days was sent home in a bag. Blizzard bags have to be approved by the state before schools can use them.
“We have used all five of the state allotted Calamity Days and have the option of using what are called Blizzard Bags, also called Online Option Make-up, starting with the sixth Calamity Day,” Seislove wrote. “We may use this format for up to three additional days without having to make up the missed school days.”

The bags are available online and students have two weeks to complete the work. Students who are unable to print the assignments can complete the work on lose-leaf paper or get copies of the work when they return to school.

At Buckeye Schools, Superintendent Brian Williams said the district hadn’t applied to the state for the bags, so his district and some other Medina County schools can’t use them to make up for the missed school days.

In a Facebook post asking teachers and parents for comments about how they’re managing the missed school days, Terri Noe, a teacher at Sidney Fenn, said she assigned extra work along with other teachers at the school. Noe also said she’s kept busy during her time off.

“My partner teacher and I worked on planning reading and writing curriculum,” Noe said. “It was not a wasted day.”

Lisa DiPaolo-Popovich said in a Facebook reply that she doesn’t mind helping her children in Medina Schools with the extra schoolwork.

“I would rather do a couple days teaching my children so they don’t run behind and so they don’t have school until July,” she said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.