By Kayla Anderson
The Washoe County School District (WCSD) released a statement Monday saying that it will discontinue digital days for the rest of the 2018-19 school year. The decision was made last Friday between the WCSD and the Nevada Department of Education.
As volatile weather and regular snowstorms affected school operations several days last month, the WCSD implemented “digital days”, where students could make up work through their computers at home when the schools were closed due to weather. Therefore, instead of making up school days at the end of the school year, students could complete work assigned to them and be counted as “present” for that day.
However, when WCSD put digital days into effect during the 2018-2019 school year, it was flagged as never condoned by the Nevada Department of Education. WCSD Public Information Officer Victoria Campbell says that only one digital day went into effect in the schools in the valley (not counting Incline Village) in the 2018-19 school year. However, Washoe County parents have also been increasingly frustrated by the lack of transparency and communication on days when school was cancelled.
“To be clear, the Washoe County School District was never in violation of any state law,” stated WCSD Superintendent Traci Davis in its press release clarifying the matter.
“It is evident from the feedback we have received that this has been a frustrating process for some of our families and staff members, and we regret that. We are a listening and learning organization first and foremost. Digital School Days represented our attempt to address concerns expressed by our families and staff when we have inclement and dangerous weather conditions and we have to close schools to not have to make up days at the end of the school year. We look forward to working with the NDE in coming up with solutions that will work for our students, families, and staff members,” it added.
In the informal Digital Days held so far, students had the snow day and an extra day to complete assignments; the WCSD stated that students and staff will not have to make up those Digital School Days already held this year. For most schools, the last day of the 2018-19 school year is slated for June 7, and if inclement weather affects regular school operations then students will not have to make up those days at the end of the year.
In simple terms, before Digital Days students that had to stay home during inclement weather made up that time up through a “contingency day” tacked on at the end of the school year. Parents and families didn’t like that because it was hard to plan for summer vacations and time off if an unknown number of days were added to the school session. Therefore, the WCSD thought that Digital Days would be a good solution to allow students to perform work at home, so that there would be no lost time and the volatile winter weather didn’t affect their next summer vacation. Now if a snow day comes, students are not required to make up work during the time that they are not in school nor do they have to take a “contingency day” going into summer.
Currently the District is working with the NDE to come up with long-term solutions at the state level and working on language to allow a variation of Digital Days to be possible in future school sessions.
“We are embracing a new Nevada. We have an opportunity to learn from school districts in at least a dozen other states that have successfully implemented plans during dangerous weather events. We always have the best interests of our students, families and staff at heart, and their safety is our highest priority,” says Davis.
“We’ve had some extraordinary winters and believe we have a good partnership with the state. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through this,” says Campbell.