When Alivia Williams’ teacher asked if she’d prefer thirty minutes of homework or eight hours of class. Alivia said neither.
“I didn’t like the idea of it -- and I thought it was really hard -- and I’d rather play in the snow,” Williams said. This year, the department of education passed Act 862, allowing public schools to develop a plan for alternative instruction when school is closed due to bad weather or emergency circumstances.
Act 862 of 2017 allows public school districts to offer alternative methods of instruction -- and allow students to complete homework online on the days that they must miss school. Each school is given between five to ten days of planned coursework from the department of education -- and they can request additional days if they need it.” At Westside, alternative instructions are Westside Alternative Method of Instruction days.
Students are required to work for three hours on these days -- and teachers make themselves available via email and google hangout to assist with classwork. Students in elementary and middle schools can be sent home with paper packets. Math teacher Letitia Mosier says students and parents might be apprehensive, but there’s an upside.
“The fact that we get to trade an instructional day -- for a day that cuts into the summer -- that’s awesome. I think it’s good for the students to, because by the time may rolls around, everyone is tired.”
Assistant superintendent for Jonesboro Public Schools District William Cheatham states AMI will lighten the load for end-of-year testing -- though it’s not the same as classroom instruction.
“It’s new in the state. It’s new for our districts in the state. And so, there’s going to be a learning curve. There’s going to be hiccups. Just with any new policy, will live and learn and get better,” Cheatham said.
The department of education promises to provide AMI coursework that is grade appropriate and offers the opportunity for families to complete homework together.