With the possibility Tuesday of a third snow day for Lewiston and Auburn schools this month, superintendents said Monday they are interested in a pilot program in Camden-Rockport where students will do their work from home on computers.

The pilot program, called remote school days, will begin after Dec. 1, Camden-Rockport schools Superintendent Maria Libby said Monday. 

“The idea came to me last year because I knew other states were trying this,” Libby said. “It’s worth trying. It’s better than having to go to school on Saturdays or extending the days by an hour.

“The concept with the remote school day is students will be having school remotely from their homes.”

Students in grades K-6 will take home “blizzard bags” with hard copy school work to do, while grades 7-12 will do their work on their laptops. Teachers will post assignments by 10 a.m., and be available through email from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Libby said.

Students who don’t do their work remotely will be marked as absent, she said.

There’ll be no more than two remote school days this winter, Libby said, and if  the first is “an utter disaster” there won’t be a second.

“We’ll see how it goes,” she said. “A lot of districts are watching.”

Among them are the Auburn and Lewiston school departments.

Auburn Superintendent Katy Grondin said she is interested in learning how the program will work for Camden-Rockport schools.

“I’m hoping it will be successful and will be something the rest of us will look at,” she said.

Grondin said students in grades 7-12 are used to doing their work electronically, but she questioned how those in lower grades would do working from home.

“How do we make sure what we pack in the snow days bags would be meaningful and productive?” she asked.

Meanwhile, Auburn has scheduled eight snow days, instead of five used in 2017-18 when schools closed June 20.

When the Christmas break begins, officials will evaluate the number of snow days used and consider changing teacher workshop days to regular class days, Grondin said.

In Lewiston, Superintendent Bill Webster said the School Committee is interested in learning more about remote school days, “but we’ve got a long way to go before such a day happens in Lewiston.”

One challenge is making sure work assigned to younger students “contributes to learning. The longer the assignment is done in advance, it would not be as relevant as we would like.”

He said Camden schools will provide devices to students who don’t have internet access at home, but Lewiston is not in a position to do that.

Lewiston used a record nine snow days in 2017-18, extending class days to June 21, the first day of summer.

Regarding Tuesday’s forecast, Webster said, “My attitude is it will be what it will be.”

Parents are a blur as they walk their children from Longley Elementary School in Lewiston on Monday afternoon. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

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