Flexible Instructional Days

Flexible Instructional Days

Throughout the course of a school year, there are often days when school must be canceled for situations other than snowy and icy roads. Most often, those closures are for extreme cold. Last school year, the South Park School District had to close on two days because of extreme cold temperatures. Therefore, two make-up days needed to be scheduled, and the school calendar had to be changed.

In July 2019, Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill that gives Pennsylvania school districts greater flexibility in providing quality instruction while also meeting the time and day requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Flexible instruction allows students to complete classwork at home should a situation occur which would prevent normal operations in one school or throughout the district. These situations include a disease epidemic, a hazardous weather condition, a law enforcement emergency, the inoperability of school buses or other equipment necessary to the public school entity’s operation, damage to a school building or a temporary circumstance rendering any portion of a school building unfit or unsafe for use. Flexible instructional programs may be online, offline or a combination of the two. Flexible instructional days eliminate the need for a make-up day since students are completing classwork at home.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education recently approved the South Park School District’s application to participate in Pennsylvania’s new flexible instructional program. The South Park School District’s flexible instructional program will be a combination of online and offline assignments depending on a student’s grade level. The South Park School District plans to implement flexible instructional days (FIDs) during extreme cold weather or other situations in which one or more school buildings must be closed due to an unplanned circumstance. These types of closures, however, will not automatically become flexible instructional days. The district will determine whether a flexible instructional day will be called on a case-by-case basis.The South Park School District will not use its flexible instructional program on days when school is closed due to hazardous driving conditions. The South Park School District can begin to use flexible instructional days in the second semester (which begins on Monday, January 27, 2020) and may use no more than five (5) flexible instructional days per school year.


HOW WILL FAMILIES BE NOTIFIED OF A FLEXIBLE INSTRUCTIONAL DAY (FID)?

Families will be notified of a flexible instructional day in the same way the South Park School District communicates information about cancellations. The notification by email, phone, push alert through the South Park School District smartphone app, social media, sparksd.org  and local media will indicate that a flexible instructional day will be implemented. Once again, a school closing message will clearly communicate when a flexible instructional day will be used. On non-flexible instructional days, the school closing message will not make mention of a flexible instructional day being utilized.

WHAT WILL A FLEXIBLE INSTRUCTIONAL DAY (FID) LOOK LIKE?

On a flexible instructional day, students will not report to school. All students will receive assignments and learning activities for each subject that would have taken place during that regular school day, including all specials classes. For instance, if the flexible instructional day is implemented on a Tuesday, and an elementary center student typically has music class on Tuesday, the student will complete a music assignment or activity during the flexible instructional day.

HOW WILL ATTENDANCE BE RECORDED ON A FLEXIBLE INSTRUCTIONAL DAY (FID)?

KINDERGARTEN, FIRST GRADE & SECOND GRADE:

Attendance for students in kindergarten through second grade will be recorded when students submit their FID assignments within three (3) days. Students who do not submit completed FID assignments will be marked absent, and a valid excuse will be required within three (3) days, according to the district’s attendance policy. Absences on FIDs will count toward students’ accumulated absences for the school year.

THIRD GRADE THROUGH TWELFTH GRADE:

Students in grades 3-12 will be required to report their attendance by 10 a.m. This can easily be done through an online attendance form posted on sparksd.org that morning. An online attendance form must be completed for each child in grades 3-12, each time there is a flexible instructional day. Families without internet access or who may have trouble accessing or completing the online form can report their child’s attendance by calling the student’s school office. Those reporting attendance by phone should expect longer than usual wait times as call volumes will be higher than normal. If you reach the building voicemail, be sure to leave a message with your student’s full name, grade, and homeroom teacher. Students in grades 3-12 whose attendance is not reported on a flexible instructional day will be marked absent, and a parent/guardian will need to provide a valid excuse within three (3) days, according to the district’s attendance policy. Absences on FIDs will count toward students’ accumulated absences for the school year.

HOW WILL STUDENTS RECEIVE ASSIGNMENTS ON A FLEXIBLE INSTRUCTIONAL DAY (FID)?

KINDERGARTEN, FIRST GRADE & SECOND GRADE:

Assignment and activity packs for students in kindergarten through second grade will be pre-printed, pre-assembled and placed in FLY (Flexible Learning for You) bags prior to the first flexible instructional day. Kindergarten, first grade and second grade students will receive FLY bags on Thursday, January 23, 2020. These bags will contain assignment packs for two possible flexible instructional days (labeled FID 1, FID 2). These assignment packs will also be posted on the South Park Elementary Center website before January 27, 2020.

THIRD GRADE THROUGH TWELFTH GRADE:

Students in grades 3-12 will receive their assignments and activities for a flexible instructional day through Google Classroom. Assignments and activities for a student’s classes will be posted in Google classroom by these times:

GRADES 9-12: Assignments posted in Google Classroom by 7:45 a.m. on a FID
GRADES 5-8: Assignments posted in Google Classroom by 8:10 a.m. on a FID
GRADES 3 & 4: Assignments posted in Google Classroom by 8:50 a.m. on a FID

WHEN ARE FLEXIBLE INSTRUCTIONAL DAY (FID) ASSIGNMENTS DUE?

Flexible instructional assignments will be due within three (3) days of the FID. For example, if a flexible instructional day is called on a Wednesday, the FID assignments would be due on Monday, the third day following the flexible instructional day.

This allows students who may not have internet access to acquire the needed materials and assignments the next school day and have enough time to complete them. It will also allow students who may need additional assistance completing an assignment to receive that help. Any student who does not submit the completed FID assignments within three (3) days will receive a zero.
 

FLEXIBLE INSTRUCTIONAL DAY (FID) ACCOMMODATIONS FOR A STUDENT WITH AN IEP

Flexible instructional day lesson/activities will be adapted for students with an IEP. If a student has difficulty completing work assigned on the FID, staff will work with the student upon his/her return so that the student gets credit for the assigned lessons.

Related services such as speech/language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. that typically take place on a day when a flexible instructional day occurs, will be made up on a day after students return to school.

WHAT IF A STUDENT NEEDS ASSISTANCE ON A FLEXIBLE INSTRUCTIONAL DAY (FID)?

Teachers will be available for assistance via email, Google classroom, or phone during regular school hours on a flexible instructional day. Email is the preferred method of communication. The school nurse will also be available via email and phone. Regular school hours for the three South Park schools are:

SOUTH PARK HIGH SCHOOL: 7:05 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.
SOUTH PARK MIDDLE SCHOOL: 7:20 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.
SOUTH PARK ELEMENTARY CENTER: 8:10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

QUESTIONS ABOUT A FLEXIBLE INSTRUCTIONAL DAY (FID)?

If you have any questions about the South Park School District’s flexible instructional program, please contact your building principal.

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