Leaders in the Knox County Public Schools are thinking cold and white this summer as they begin making plans for the winter ahead.
On Thursday, June 18, the school district received notification that it is one of 44 districts that has received approval for non-traditional instruction by the Kentucky Department of Education.
The non-traditional approval grants waivers that allow the districts’ use of virtual or other non-traditional means of instruction when school is cancelled because of weather or another emergency. For Knox County, that means the district may count up to 10 non-traditional instruction days as regular attendance days in its school calendar and not have to make them up.
“Our committee worked hard in putting together a proposal that blends both traditional methods of instruction with new online possibilities,” said Frank Shelton, Director of School and Community Relations for Knox schools.
“Before applying for participation in the program we surveyed our staff and received great feedback and ideas which resulted in our proposal being approved,” said Shelton.
Being dubbed “Operation Snow School” by leaders in the district, the official plan of action that will take place on snow days is far from being complete.
Knox County will join other districts this summer in learning about best practices for implementing the days and reporting requirements that document that teaching and learning occurred as the result of a non-traditional day being used. Other districts that participated in the program during the past school year will offer feedback and assistance to Knox.
Being involved in the non-traditional school day program is not new to Knox County. The district originally applied for participation several years ago when only districts that missed more than 20 school days were eligible. Luckily for Knox that year, the district experienced a warm winter which disqualified it from future participation. The revised version of the bill opens participation up to all districts that have an approved alternative education plan demonstrating that learning would not be negatively impacted.
“If we see that Operation Snow School is not being successful for our students, we will look at revising how we are implementing it or stop participation,” explained Shelton. “The goal is to continue learning during extended periods of time when winter weather forces us to close. Operation Snow School will help students be able to retain knowledge of skills and concepts between lessons that take place in the physical school classroom.”
Next spring Knox County will submit documentation of student and faculty participation and measurements of student learning for the missed days. The Kentucky Department of Education then will determine the number of regular attendance days granted to the district under the provisions of the waiver.