WESTOVER — Days off from doing school work because of inclement weather may become a thing of the past for students after the Somerset County Board of Education moved through first reader a virtual instruction plan that would allow teaching to occur online when students are not in school.
Lessons and/or assignments through a device provided by the schools would be for a minimum of four hours for up to eight total inclement weather days this school year. Secondary school students would attend from 8 a.m. to noon and elementary students from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Deputy Superintendent Tom Davis said the policy is modeled after a template provided by the Maryland State Department of Education and it includes procedures on handling attendance.
“This allows us the opportunity when we have inclement weather and we have weather closures to utilize either asynchronous learning days or synchronous learning days,” Mr. Davis said.
Asynchronous learning is when students are provided the work ahead of time and complete the assignments independently. Synchronous learning provides for live interactions between teachers and students and is made possible through the 1-to-1 device program “but we know that we have connectivity issues with many of our areas,” Mr. Davis acknowledged.
Of the up to eight virtual instruction days the state requires at least five be synchronous learning and that there be accommodations made for special needs students. Absent when last month’s first reader vote was taken was Vice Chair Penny Nicholson with the final decision pending at the Oct. 18 board meeting.