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WUSD creates plan for snow makeup days

The Williams High School building. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

The Williams High School building. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

WILLIAMS Ariz. — Williams students can breathe easier knowing the school year will not continue into the summer after the Williams Unified School District Governing Board voted to use Fridays as make-up days for the snow days taken this winter.

The record breaking snowfall that fell on Williams led to 11 snow days for the district to make-up, and WUSD Superintendent Eric Evans said it was a goal for the district to find a way to recover those days without cutting into the summer break.

"Our attorney believes and we believe it's defensible with the state and other districts are doing this as well to create a take home packet option on Fridays, or to create a virtual instructional model for kids and staff on Fridays," Evans said. "We have looked at the best options for student learning that will not infringe on the summer break, as we know many families have already made plans."

Although to some the obvious option is for the district to utilize Fridays for in-school learning, Evans said it is more complicated than that.

"The state has been clear on one thing and one thing only, and muddy on everything else," he said. "You can't be a four-day institution and all of a sudden go to five days a week."

Although WUSD had 11 snow days, the district only needs to make up eight days because three days were already buffered into the calendar. The school calendar is 147 days, and the state requires 144 days with a four-day calendar along with a specified seat time that the district has already met.

Evans said the district can meet the requirements by holding "virtual school" from eight to noon on Fridays beginning March 31 and continuing every Friday until May 19.

"(That way) we are having a full, uninterrupted summer and eighth-grade promotion the following week, and high school graduation that following Friday," he said. "That will remain unimpacted and we can all go on our way for summer vacation."

Students in Kindergarten through third grade will be provided with paper packets and/or worksheets. These assignments will be due in person on Monday mornings at 8 a.m. Students grades four through twelve will complete assignments and bellwork in Google Classroom. These assignments will be due online by 11:59 p.m. on Friday nights. Credit will be given and attendance will be recorded based on submitted work.

The district will assign Chromebooks for students in grades 4-8 who need one, as students in grade 9-12 have already been issued Chromebooks. The district asks that if a student has access to a computer or laptop at home to use that device.

While students make up learning time, classified hourly staff will be able to recover lost hours from school closures. During the remote learning period, teachers will be on campus on Fridays to answer emails, manage Google Classroom and assist students. Teachers will not give lessons on Zoom as they did during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We worked really hard and were very diligent in seeking legal counsel, reaching out to neighboring districts and exhausting all possibilities before arriving at this decision. I’m proud that we are not impacting funding, not impacting teacher salaries and not extending the year into summer vacation,” Evans said.

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