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Broken Arrow schools testing out 'virtual day'

Posted: 12:51 PM, Jan 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-22 19:47:26Z

BROKEN ARROW — No students walked the halls of Broken Arrow Public Schools on Tuesday, but technically they were still in class.

Broken Arrow is testing out a "virtual day." Students are doing school work at home.

"It is providing a way for students to work from home, pre-k through 12th," Charlie Hannema with BA Public Schools said.

The district is looking for a way to avoid having to extend the school year if they are forced to cancel class for inclement weather.

Hannema said they have five weather days built in, and in recent years, they have not had to use them.

In the event the district is forced to close for several days in a row, the school could use a "virtual day" and it would count as an actual school day.

High schoolers were given assignments for their specific classes on their Chromebooks.

Preschoolers through eighth graders were given a packet of assignments that included English, math, science and social studies. The assignment, created by an instructional specialist, was the same for each grade district-wide.

Hannema said they could also use a virtual day when they needed to empty the high school for the SAT. He went on to say, right now, if one school has an issue, like downed power lines prohibiting access, they have to cancel school for the whole district. A virtual day would allow the one affected school to work online and the rest to resume business as usual.

"If we did it again, I would have liked some of it to be harder, because I am in all advanced classes," Sloane Beese, a sixth-grader in BAPS, said.

Preschool through fifth grade does have the ability to work on assignments for the grades above and below theirs. Middle school does not. Hannema said if they decide to keep virtual school as an option, giving middle schoolers a more challenging choice might be something they look in to.

It took Beese and fellow sixth-grader Lexi Gardner about three hours to complete the packets, including taking breaks.

The middle schoolers said if doing virtual school allows them to get out of school on time for the summer, they support it.

"If it's a snow day, yes, you get to stay home and do whatever you want, but if you have this then your mind keeps flowing so whenever you go back it's not as hard to refocus," Gardner said. "It's better so we don't have to go even longer than we should."

Hannema said they will consider feedback from parents, teachers and students before deciding if they will have another virtual day.

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