Washoe County School District drops digital days
March 4, 2019
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Washoe County School District has discontinued its controversial "digital days" policy.
The district reached that conclusion after a meeting with Nevada Department of Education officials on Friday, according to a press release posted on Monday.
Earlier this year the department sent a memo to the district that said the policy, in its current form, ran afoul of state law.
Digital days were intended to continue students' learning on days when weather forced the physical closure of schools. Rather than have a snow day, schools would observe a digital day, which in theory would prevent missed instruction time. Too much missed instruction time can extend the school year beyond the planned end-of-year date.
The idea was piloted in Incline Village during the 2017-18 school year and expanded district wide this year.
In its announcement Monday, the district said the digital days used thus far will count as valid instruction time and will not need to be made up. This means schools will be dismissed for the year on schedule.
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"To be clear, the Washoe County School District was never in violation of any state law," WCSD Superintendent Traci Davis said in Monday’s press release. "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."
Should inclement weather force school closures going forward, those schools will observe a traditional snow day.
The school district said it is working with the Nevada Legislature on a change to state law that would allow for a digital school day plan to be used in the future.
If such a change occurs, the district says it will work "collaboratively to include guidance from the state regarding curriculum for students who are in special education programs and set expectations for high-quality instruction to be provided by teachers."
"We are embracing a new Nevada," Davis said. "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.
"We look forward to working with the NDE, our families, staff members, and students to find solutions that will work for everyone concerned, and we appreciate their patience and cooperation as we move forward together in this important work."