Seymour will use all makeups after 4th closure


Seymour Community School Corp. will have to use all of its built-in makeup days this year after officials canceled school Wednesday, the fourth day in a row, because of single-digit temperatures, subzero wind chills and ice-covered roads.

That would be OK if spring wasn’t two months away.

As it stands, students will be in school Feb. 19, March 30, April 2 and April 27 to make up the four days they have missed since Friday when a winter storm left ice and some snow in the area.

With the potential for additional cancellations because of winter weather, Seymour schools will be forced to add makeup days at the end of the school year, Superintendent Rob Hooker said.

“We could discuss adding an additional hour to the school day if it comes down to it, but we need to have everything done no later than June 1,” he said. That’s because graduation is June 3.

Hooker said he wasn’t sure if school would resume today or if there would be another cancellation or delay, but he added he hoped to be able to make that announcement sometime Wednesday afternoon.

“We would rather be able to tell parents and staff the day before,” he said.

A few area parochial schools, including Immanuel Lutheran School, Trinity Lutheran High School and St. John’s Lutheran School-Sauers, went back Tuesday or Wednesday.

Hooker said it was a combination of temperatures and conditions of county roads that led to his decision to cancel again Wednesday. He said he hoped things would get back to normal today.

“We appreciate all the people out there working on the roads,” he said. “It’s a challenge on their budget for the overtime they are putting in.”

Jerry Ault, county highway superintendent, said Jackson County has 738 miles of road, which becomes 1,476 miles if plowed both ways.

“We can’t be everywhere at once to clean these roads,” he said.

It also takes longer for county roads to be cleared because the county highway department has to spread a salt/sand mixture.

“Unlike INDOT, we don’t have the luxury of putting down straight salt,” Ault said.

Online options

Some Seymour parents and teachers took to Facebook recently to question why the district wasn’t using eLearning, an option some school districts, such as Crothersville and Jennings County, have adopted so missed days don’t have to be made up.

The state began allowing school corporations to apply for eLearning in 2015 so they could make up missed days because of winter weather and not have to add on days at the end of the school year.

“eLearning is a strange concept,” Hooker said. “I don’t see how you can get credit for kindergarten through 12th grade for seven hours when it’s not a day of school.”

There are other issues, too, such as not every student has internet access at home and not all grade levels have been issued a Chromebook or are allowed to take them home.

“We are very close to being 1:1, but there are too many variables with eLearning. The best education is going to take place in the classroom with their teacher,” Hooker said.

“I think there are a lot of things the state needs to work out with eLearning,” he added. “My concern is that we wouldn’t have to pay teachers.”

Crothersville schools

This is the second school year for Crothersville Community School Corp. to be fully 1:1, so it can use eLearning days to make up missed days.

So far this year, Crothersville has missed four days because of the weather — last Friday and Monday through Wednesday this week. Monday, however, doesn’t count because they already were scheduled to be out of school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Superintendent Terry Goodin said classes will now be in session Presidents Day on Feb. 19, and the other two days will be made up via eLearning days.

Those dates will be announced later and will either be on Saturdays or on built-in makeup days, which are April 2 and 13 and May 7.

“I’m going to wait until all of the inclement weather is out of the way before we start making any decision on that,” Goodin said.

During a Crothersville school board meeting Tuesday night, Trustee Dale Schmelzle asked Goodin about the advantages of using an eLearning day as opposed to going to school on a makeup day.

“It’s a savings to the corporation on transportation costs, building costs as far as heat and all of that,” Goodin said.

Schmelzle also asked how eLearning days benefit students since they aren’t in a traditional learning environment.

“The reason that we really went to this is to give kids the opportunity to learn in a different environment,” Goodin said. “It breaks up the flow, so it gives kids opportunities to do that working in an adverse situation, maybe not ideal or something that they are used to. And then obviously, the technology side of that is something that we’re trying to push out to get more people involved.”

In 2016-17, both of Crothersville’s eLearning days were on makeup days that fell on Mondays. Teachers posted assignments online by noon Friday, and students had until 8 a.m. Tuesday to complete them. Most assignments were done on an iPad, but some involved students turning them in on paper.

On an eLearning day, teachers are on call and can be reached by phone or email to answer questions from students or parents. For students without internet access at home, the elementary school computer lab is open a couple of hours in the morning.

The assignments are supposed to be a continuation of what the students have been doing in their classes. They still receive instructions from the teachers, and there’s an attendance requirement. If the assignment is turned in by the deadline, they are not counted absent.

In the second semester of the 2015-16 school year, Crothersville chose to do eLearning days on two Saturdays. For students who weren’t 1:1 at the time, they could complete their assignments on a home computer, at the library, on a smartphone or in the elementary school’s computer lab.

Brownstown schools

Brownstown Central Community School Corp. students also have been out of school since Friday and will make up missed days Feb. 19 and April 6, 13 and 16.

Any other missed days this year will be made up on consecutive weekdays beginning May 29.

Brownstown doesn’t offer eLearning. Corporation business manager Jade Peters said students in grades 3 through 12 have access to Chromebooks in their classrooms, but they aren’t allowed to take them home. He said they are working on getting Chromebooks for kindergartners and first- and second-graders.

As far as making the decision to cancel school, Peters said they want students to learn, but their safety is the first priority. He said they have to feel comfortable sending buses on roads, but some of the county roads still are snow- or ice-covered.

Medora schools

Like Crothersville, Medora Community School Corp. students have been out since Friday but were scheduled to be off Monday for the holiday, so they have three days to make up so far.

There are only two built-in makeup days remaining — Feb. 19 and April 27. So students will have to go beyond the last day of school — May 25 — to make up the third missed day and any other days that may be canceled this school year.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Makeup days

Seymour Community School Corp.: Feb. 19, March 30, April 2 and April 27

Brownstown: Feb. 19 and April 6, 13 and 16.

Crothersville: Feb. 19; other three dates will be announced later

Medora: Feb. 19, April 27 and May 29


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