Children and families in the Janesville School District will not have to worry about making up snow days anymore.
District officials announced Friday that students will be expected to attend school from home instead so the district can meet instructional hours required by state law.
The district still has two snow days built into its schedule, so kids can still hope for two unexpected days off during the school year. But after that, they will be expected to get on their iPads or Chromebooks to attend classes.
Officials presented the plan to the school board Thursday night, district spokesman Patrick Gasper said. No board approval was required.
In the past, after the first two snow days, any school delays or days off had to be made up, normally in the spring.
The district has made up days by extending the school year in June or building extra days into the calendar, such as the Friday before Memorial Day, which is normally a day off, or using days set aside for staff training, Gasper said.
The district had been adding take-home devices in each year’s budget, working toward a goal of having all students equipped, Gasper said. But the coronavirus forced the district’s hand, so now every student has an iPad or Chromebook.
In some cases, officials filled the device gap by refurbishing laptops that had been installed in libraries, Gasper said, and the district bought additional devices.
For the first two snow days, the superintendent will decide about closing or delays on the night before if possible, but no later than 6 a.m., according to a district news release.
Announcements of delays or cancellations or districtwide virtual classes will be sent to families via the district’s messaging system known as Infinite Campus or by phone call, email or text message.
The information also will be posted on the district website and social media channels and sent to local news outlets.
If the weather forces officials to close school buildings after the two snow days are used up, all students will be required to go to school online.
The superintendent will announce the districtwide pivot to online classes the day before so students and staff can prepare and to ensure students take their devices and charging cables home.
Middle and high school students are already used to taking their devices home, but it might be an adjustment for children in lower grades, Gasper said.
The district asks that parents and guardians verify their contact information in the Infinite Campus system, where they should indicate how they want to receive school-closing information. Families who have moved or changed phone numbers are asked to update that information on their Infinite Campus accounts.
Infinite Campus notifications might take some time to reach the more than 10,000 contacts, so district officials encourage families to check for details on the district website homepage, janesville.k12.wi.us, or the district’s Facebook page.
“Parents/guardians always have the option of keeping their child home due to inclement weather, and if deciding to do so, are asked to call the child’s school to report the decision to keep them home,” according to the announcement. “Your child will receive a principal-excused absence.”
The district “as a general rule” will not close school early because of an approaching winter storm, to avoid sending students to homes where they might not be supervised, according to the release.
Parents concerned about an approaching storm are welcome to come to school and take their children home early.