Oakmont Looking into Blizzard Bags

Laurel Allen, Author

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As winter is quickly approaching, many Oakmont students are looking forward to the best part of school in the winter time – snow days! Although snow days seem amazing in the moment, by the time summer vacation arrives, students and staff are left wishing snow days never existed. Now, with the new trend of blizzard bags, students many be able to get the day off, without it cutting into summer vacation. blizzard bag days are days similar to snow days. but unlike snow days, they will count for that day of school.

Most of the time, snow days can be predicted the day before. So, on the night of a predicted snow day, teachers can assign the work that you would be doing in class that next day as “blizzard bag work”. That way, if there is a snow day, students will have all their classwork to then complete at home. If 75-80 percent of students in the district complete all the assigned work, the day will count as one of the 180 days of school.

There are a few regulations that these days must acquire in order to be counted as a full day of school. School districts need to take into consideration that all students must have equal opportunities to complete the given assignments. For example, all students may not have a computer, so if a teacher gave a computer based assignment, they also would have to provide paper copies for students who don’t have internet access.

Another component to this is the fact that these bags will have to “Be able to serve all students, including students who receive special education services” stated Massachusetts Department of Education. Districts must find a way to create assignments that are possible for all students, whatever those assignments may be.

Something we all kind of forget is that school isn’t just for students. Hundreds of teachers work in a district and these blizzard bags need to cover teachers, as well as students. On blizzard bag days, teachers must find a way participate in some way or another.

In the past few years, many schools in the Massachusetts area have been testing out the idea of Blizzard Bags. If this testing goes well, blizzard bags could become universal in all schools. Oakmont has been thinking more about the Blizzard Bag idea as well. Principal, Mr. Uminski stated, “It is definitely going to be in agenda in our future meetings.”

Although Blizzard Bags seem to sound great, there are a few issues that come along with them. First off, blizzard bags take a lot of planning. Teachers have to make sure that the work they are assigning meets the requirements of a regular school day. On top of all the other work teachers have, adding blizzard bag assignments on top of that can be very overwhelming. Throughout testing, schools have found a better alternative than just the assigned work – long term projects. “It wouldn’t necessarily be a daily thing that you would be working on during a snow day, but it would be part of a long term project.” said Mr. Uminski. This way students are still working hard and teachers only have to assign the project once.

Mr. Jones, part of the math department states that giving work for a blizzard bag day might be tricky. “I couldn’t teach anything new, so it would have to be a review type of packet.” He also explained, “If there are too many of them, as a math teacher I am losing the chance to move forward, so it’s review, review, review, review.”

On the other hand, some departments could almost benefit from a blizzard bag day.  For example, Mr. Barry already sends students home with there are projects in case of a snow day, that way  they can keep working as they would in class. If we were to have these days, most art students would already be used to working on there projects on snowdays, so it wouldn’t be a huge change for them.

Another conflicting topic – seniors. As said before, in order for the blizzard bag day to count as a regular day 75-80 percent of the district needs to complete the assignments. Since snow days don’t affect seniors anyways, it is feared that most seniors won’t complete the work, resulting in a lesser chance of the day being counted. Senior, Dorothy Zierle, explains that since the work still counts towards her grade, she would definitely still do it. “I mean, I care about my grades, so I would do it” she said.

Many students and staff at Oakmont are excited about and interested in this new trend. Sophomore, Patrick O’Hara, said, “I think it would be more productive to get schoolwork done instead of just having a snow day. I would way rather have that,” he said, “Definitely a good idea.”

“I could totally see how it could be useful, not having to make up the snow days would be nice,” said Miss Gates, a math teacher at Oakmont. “There are going to be benefits, but there are also going to be downfalls.”