Committee OKs 4 Blizzard Bags

  • An example of a blizzard bag (in a Ziploc bag) for kindergarten. Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli

Recorder Staff
Published: 1/4/2018 9:53:06 PM

ORANGE — The Orange Elementary School Committee last night gave the nod to four days’ worth of “Blizzard Bags” this academic year, though Thursday’s snow day was exempt.

A Blizzard Bag is a packet of school work sent home with students before a snow day so there is minimal lapse in learning when weather interferes with a school day. There have been three snow days for the Orange Elementary School District this year, though no Blizzard Bags had been approved. Superintendent Tari Thomas said Wednesday night the decision was made to cancel school on Thursday based on the forecast. Thomas said Thursday would be a general snow day for students, though four days of Blizzard Bags are now available, at her discretion, going forward.

Thomas praised the success of Blizzard Bags in a pilot program last year, though School Committee members Amy White and Robert Haigh questioned the effectiveness. White and Haigh said they are not opposed to the idea of Blizzard Bags, but don’t want to be hasty in assuming a day of Blizzard Bag work is the same as a normal school day.

“How do we know that this is worth it?” White asked. “Do we know this will prevent any slip in achievement that snow days cause?”

Blizzard Bags are described as Ziploc bags filled with assignments for students to complete at home during a snow day. Caryl Rice — who said she teaches kindergarten, first grade and second grade — passed around examples of kindergarten and first-grade Blizzard Bags to School Committee members. Thomas defended Blizzard Bags are a way to avoid tacking additional days onto the school year in June.

“The days at the end of June are not as productive as any one of those Blizzards Bags we just saw presented,” she said.

“I could debate that one with you, but I’m not going to right now,” Haigh retorted.

“I was a teacher, forever, and I just remember those late weeks in June just not being good,” Thomas said.

Teachers in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting at Fisher Hill School and shared some data collected from 394 school parents. Marie Cole, director of curriculum for the Mahar, Orange and Petersham school districts, explained two-thirds of parents responded to the survey and 92.6 percent said they are willing and able to assist a child who brings home a Blizzard Bag. Seventy-five percent said they could help a child for two to four hours.




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