Learning continues despite school closures

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 10, 2017

By Rebecca Rider


SALISBURY — For Rowan-Salisbury high school students, midterm testing is just around the corner with its head-scratching questions, week of review and — two days of snow?

With the first round of tests slated to begin Friday, missing two days of critical review because of winter weather is “not ideal,” said Eisa Cox, director of secondary education.

But there is a silver lining: The winter storm that swept through the county Friday evening was expected, giving teachers and principals time to prepare contingency plans in case of missed days. And working in a district where each student and teacher has access to a piece of technology, learning can take place even if school is out.

“I think right now, it’s the best of the worst,” Cox said of the missed days.

At South Rowan High School, teachers spent last week getting ready in case snow and ice closed roads. Principal Kelly Withers told teachers to establish a way to communicate with students and to distribute review materials — be it online, through Schoology or on paper.

“It was an adjustment,” Withers said.

But teachers are used to contingency planning.

“It seems that weather tends to impact us pretty routinely around exams,” she said.

On Monday, Withers was checking the pulse of her school through social media. She saw teachers reminding students about assignments that they could submit. She even saw one teacher on Twitter playing a flash-card review game with students — complete with prizes.

Having the one-to-one devices on a snow day has been a huge boon, she said — an advantage Cox highlighted as well.

“(Students) have opportunities to keep up even out of school,” Cox said.

While the devices in no way replace valuable class review time, Cox said, they help lessen the pressure students and teachers might feel by losing two review days.

“School time is critically important to academic achievement,” Superintendent Lynn Moody said.

And should school resume Wednesday, students will still have two days to hit the books.

“(Sunday) we agreed that we are in good shape for Friday,” Cox said.

But it’s not just high school students who are expected to keep up over snow days. Moody on Sunday issued a challenge to students: The school that has the highest percentage of articles read on Achieve3000 for Monday and Tuesday will win a hot chocolate party for its students.

This is the first year that both students and teachers are able to push forward on a snow day thanks to a recent policy change allowing teachers to work from home.

Moody said that teachers value the time to plan or complete professional development from a quiet place, and students can work on improving their literacy from the comfort of their own homes.

The school system also is encouraging parents to download the “Ready Rosie” app during the break. The app is a literacy tool that suggests games and activities parents can play with their children to improve reading and language skills.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.