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School district outlines power outage policy

When the power is out, the food in the fridge is at risk, the pump might stop bringing water up from the well, and the heating and cooling system might not work.

Oh, and the Option 3 students in the house might have to miss school.

If a student who is attending Warren County School District classes through Option 3 — using technology to virtually attend classes throughout the school day — loses access to the internet, they can’t go to school. With recent storms bringing down poles and lines all over the county there have been outages in some places that have lasted multiple days.

“It would be an ‘excused absence’ but it’s still considered an absence,” Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Eric Mineweaser said. “We’d certainly work with families when these situations arise.”

“If a student or teacher has their electronic device and WiFi, they shouldn’t have trouble reaching their classes,” Mineweaser said. “If there are Internet connection issues, such as the one we are experiencing at central office, we’d work at notifying families either through a call blast and/or social media post such as our school app or Facebook.”

The central office problem should not be causing many problems. Students do not attend that building. The Virtual Academy teachers can go to places — like home — where they can find the connections needed to continue to serve those students.

“If it was for an extended period of time, we’d work out a plan to get those Virtual Academy teachers in a building where there is Internet service available so instruction can continue,” Mineweaser said. “The only time there would be a concern with our Option 3 teachers is if they’d lose Internet service in a building — or if an Option 3 student loses Internet connection.”

The assignments are typically posted, he said, so students could continue to work even without a live lesson if there were a connection problem at the school.

A power outage might not shut a student out of class — if they have enough battery and data.

Joining by a conference call isn’t an option for participating in class.

So far, Option 3 is working out.

“I think it’s going fairly well,” Mineweaser said. “I haven’t heard of too many concerns.”

“The elementary teachers are teaching live lessons daily,” he said. “Our middle/high school core content teachers are utilizing Microsoft Teams as the instructional delivery method for our Option 3 students. Our specials teachers are using the Virtual Academy for their live lessons. We do have a few classes that obviously cannot run live such as Phys Ed and Tech Ed so an Option 3 student would be taking a traditional Virtual Academy course to meet those course requirements.”

“I feel we all just need to understand this is a very new model for everyone in this district, as well as the many districts around the country,” he said. “We’re learning more and more about the technology being utilized on a daily basis. Teachers and students are being patient and working through some of the flaws that may have been popping up. The more we communicate and understand the virtual needs of both our teachers and students the smoother the process will go moving forward.”

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