The Bellwood-Antis School District has had two Flexible Instruction Days over the last two weeks. Friday and Monday students students worked at home at their pace, but they had to have work turned in by the end of the day.
A Flexible Instructional Day (FID) is a tool available to public school entities to be used as an alternate approach to delivering instruction if a circumstance arises that prevents instruction in customary manner.
“As the term indicates, FIDs provide flexibility,” said high school principal Mr. Richard Schreier. “Our students and staff are well versed in virtual education due to the use of multiple instructional models throughout the 2020-21 school year. The choice for asynchronous was made purposely because our students and staff might not be able to be tied to their device for an entire day.”
The biggest benefit of Flexible instruction days is allowing students to have school in the event of closures and not have to make the missed days up during holidays and summer vacation.
These Days are just like virtual learning. The district was approved by the Department of Education for three FID days in 2019-2020. (The BluePrint ran a story about the approval called BASD approved for virtual days.)
Mr. Schreier said FID days alleviate concern from some community members that students are wasting their time when schools are closed when technology allows for learning to proceed.
“We have fielded complaints about the enjoyment of ‘snow days’ and kids going out to play in the snow or sled ride. The asynchronous virtual day allows for a student do some school work in the morning, then finish it up later in the evening,” said Mr. Schreier. “We are not tied to a synchronous schedule in which all students and teachers are doing the same thing and the exact same time.”
In 2019 teachers were worried about teaching virtual classes, but the school closures and changes in the instructional model brought on by the pandemic have forced all teachers to become virtual teachers, and they are feeling better now.
“When I first heard about FID days and delivering instruction virtually, which was in September of 2019, I never really thought it would be effective,” said English teacher Mr. Kerry Naylor. “I figured it would be a process of going through the motions just to prevent kids from using up vacation days to make up school. Everything that happened since then has changed my view entirely. Bellwood-Antis is definitely capable of providing meaningful online instruction every day of the year. We’ve all grown in that way.”
There is still the risk of students neglecting their online work or not checking in to retrieve their work on time, but those are issues Mr. Schreier said will be ironed out over time.
Mr. Schreier said “Based on some initial feedback, some students did not put a great effort into completing the assignments shared by their teachers. Together the teachers and administration will continue to look for ways to improve “Flexible Instructional Days” so their use can be continued in the future.”
“Yes there are a few things we need to work on. We have realized when there is a significant amount of snow, we’ll need to schedule a delay to the start of the FID to allow teachers and parents (student helpers too) time to shovel out before the snow hardens.” said Dr. Wagner Middle school principle
“The days seem to meet our original goal of moving learning forward on a day that would normally been a complete cancellation.
The forecast of inclement weather has allowed the district to communicate with teachers, students, and families about the plan for an asynchronous virtual day.” said Mr. Schreier
“We will continue to collect data about the effectiveness of FIDs to determine their continued use in the future. I like the option of declaring a FID, and saving a make up day scheduled for April or June. However, there may be times where a regular cancellation is most appropriate based upon the timing of situation that would cause the district to close a building.” said Mr. Schreier High school principle
Dr. Wagner Middle school principle said” I think FID days have gone pretty well so far”
FID days have gone well so far, but some kids don’t do work and makes it hard on teachers and students.
“I think FID days are good and bad. I like that we don’t have to adjust the school calendar and we can stay consistent with the curriculum, but there are numerous challenges associated with FIDs, such as teachers trying to figure out how much work is enough but not too much, child care for younger students, and the desire of some students and families to have traditional snow days where kids can be kids and enjoy the snow.” said Dr. Wagner Middle school principle