(Pictured to the right: challenging road conditions within Holbrook Unified School District's 1500 square miles.)
Snow Days with Holbrook
Snow days aren’t just for snow play anymore!
February 2023 severe snow and blizzard conditions brought traffic to a stop in Northern Arizona. Nearly 300 miles of I-40 shut down, semitrucks were stacked along the interstate and backed up in small communities, and even without yellow school buses on the road, students still made it to school. How is that possible? It’s because Holbrook Unified School District planned and used the Instructional Time Model statute to their advantage.
What it is:
House Bill 2862 allows schools to use flexible and innovative solutions to meet instructional time requirements in the statute. Up to 40% of learning can happen virtually, during school hours, evenings and even weekends.
How it works:
With an Instructional Time Model (ITM) plan in place, Holbrook Unified School District used H.B. 2862 to get students to class without any students, teachers or staff getting on the road. “We’ve leveraged this to be able to offer instructional time for anytime students that can’t report to school for weather conditions”, says Dr. Robbie Koerperich, Holbrook USD’s Superintendent of almost 15 years. And in Northern Arizona, in areas like Holbrook, this can happen a lot.
Holbrook USD serves nine communities spanning 1,500 square miles in Navajo County. “The kids that live 60 miles north of Holbrook, it’s dangerous to put staff as well as students on the road” in certain weather conditions because the roads aren’t maintained throughout the district. In some areas “it’s literally a sheet of ice”, says Koerperich.
Before the statute, approved in November 2021, Holbrook would have students marked absent because they had no way to get to school in severe weather, and Holbrook had no way to deliver instruction to them. Several communities in the district do not have internet connectivity, and many student families don’t have electricity or water. Today, in these situations, students can take their Chromebook home and work offline without internet, even use power banks for charging.
And, of course, there are packets that are provided for when extreme weather and power outages are expected “we properly plan, we know when storms are coming through so we get information into the students’ hands to be able to do their school work, and we do as much online instruction as possible,” Koerperich says.
Parent & Guardian Feedback
“We believe [this ITM] increases our parental involvement because our parents know what's going on in school and they help deliver at home,” according to Koerperich. 75% of parents surveyed prefer ITM days over traditional snow days. Holbrook is a 2:1 district (thanks to Emergency Connectivity Funds) and students have devices for school and home. Parents and guardians verify their child has attended via online form. Koerperich says families appreciate it because “it’s flexible and it’s working, we’re actually increasing the opportunities for kids to be educated.”
Who is it for?
The ITM opportunity is available to all Arizona public districts and charter schools. All have the opportunity to follow the steps and submit an ITM plan for implementation.
How to Implement
Koerperich says for school districts who haven’t used the ITM yet but might be interested, buy-in and preparedness are key. He suggests considering some key issues first:
Identify the reason for using the ITM.
Determine if there is capacity to implement in terms of technology.
Does this fit the district learning platforms?
Is there buy-in from families and staff?
Resources for help:
Holbrook Unified is sharing their ITM plan they submitted to launch this in their district:
To understand the statute requirements, ADE’s website has all the details:
Holbrook is studying their ITM and conducting action research. According to Koerperich, it has worked well so far. One of HUSD’s goals is to provide learning 24/7, 365. “We want kids to learn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” says Koerperich. The ITM helps remove barriers to learning and increase learning opportunities between school and home. “We’re trying to open those doors, to bridge the distances from home to school, and technology has allowed us to take learning to the home.”
Tell us your story!
How are you using H.B. 2862 to provide innovative instructional time for your community? Reach out to us at [email protected]