PITTSBURGH -- The North Hills School District has been approved to participate in Pennsylvania’s new Flexible Instructional Day program.
A Flexible Instructional Day or FID can be used in place of a snow day or other unplanned school closure and eliminate the need for a make-up day because students perform classwork at home.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education notified administrators via email late last week that their application had been approved.
North Hills can begin using flex days this school year through the 2021-22 school year under the current three-year application, and can use up to five days each year. Under the program, snow days are not automatically flex days. The district will make a decision whether to take a flex day or use a snow day on a day-to-day basis.
Lesson plans and activities are being built for each subject area in each grade level. When combined, the lessons will resemble a school day, and students should plan to spend roughly the same amount of time on the assignments as they would spend in school.
In elementary school, students will follow that school day’s cycle day 1-6. If a student has music on Day 2 and a FID is called on Day 2, for example, that student will complete a music assignment in addition to assignments for their four core subject areas: ELA, math, science and social studies.
Middle and high students will go through their schedule that day and complete an assignment for each class.
"This is going to be quality instruction,” said North Hills School District Superintendent Dr. Patrick J. Mannarino. “I don’t want to have any wasted days in education.”
Dr. Mannarino said he will be ready to use the program when the second semester begins on Jan. 13, 2020.
When a FID is called, students will be required to fill out and submit an online form marking whether they are participating. Students who are not participating will be absent that day. This is a slight change to the district’s original plan following recommendations from the state.
Students in grades 5-12 will access their lessons for the day via Google Classroom. Fifth- through twelfth-graders currently use Google Classroom so there should be little adjustment.
All lessons for students in grades K-4 will be pre-built, printed, placed in “blizzard bags” and given to students prior to the first FID. Lessons will be separated into groups by FID 1-5. All of the assignments will also be accessible via nhsd.net in event the blizzard bag is misplaced or not in the possession of the student.
During a FID, teachers will be reachable by email or via Google Classroom, and must respond to inquiries within 30 minutes.
Completed assignments will need to be submitted within a to-be-determined window of the time.
Initially, the district planned to allow seven days to account for things such as a power or internet outage, if a family does not have internet or more than one computer for multiple children, or if a student needs additional help, but is revaluating the time length based on state recommendations.
Details of the program will be finalized over the coming weeks and a complete overview will be presented to the Board of Education at its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, at 7 p.m. in the LGI Room at the North Hills Middle School located at 55 Rochester Road in Ross Township. The public is welcome to attend.
"We are excited to be able to provide quality instruction to our students on a day we normally would not be able to without taking away a vacation day in the future,” said Dr. Mannarino.