Ozark School District continues virtual learning Friday after exhausting AMI days

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OZARK, Mo. (KY3) – Winter weather and COVID-19 trends have caused many school districts in the Ozarks to host virtual learning days over the past few months.

Missouri allows school districts to use up to five AMI days, also known as Alternate Methods of Instruction days, or 36 hours throughout the school year. AMI days can be used in response to inclement weather, COVID-19 concerns, or other emergencies.

Some school districts around the Ozarks are approaching the statewide limit or have already used up their five allowed AMI days this school year. The Ozark School District has used all of its AMI hours as of February 24.

Dr. Craig Carson, assistant superintendent of learning for the Ozark School District, said the decision to use AMI days was made to help with learning after several breaks in in-person learning.

“The learning is fluid,” Dr. Carson said. “We want it to be continuous and we want the students to have repetition.”

For AMI days, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reimburses school districts. However, since the Ozark School District used all five DESE-funded days and did not schedule in-person learning on Friday due to weather, district leaders had to make a decision.

On Friday, Carson said the Ozark School District decided to pursue virtual learning, but the district used local funds from taxpayer dollars to host a virtual day rather than issue a day of snow. The faculty said they wanted to spend Friday virtual with the goal of getting the 2021-22 school year to end on time.

A parent, Trevor Smith, explains his position.

“I pay for my kids’ schooling through taxes anyway, so I don’t have too much of a problem with that,” Smith said.

Trevor Smith, has two young children. He said concentration can be a problem during AMI days.

“Certainly trying to keep them on track to learn and focus is very hard to do when you’re stuck indoors in a tiny house,” Smith said.

Carson said they needed a virtual day to stay on track.

“We want to make sure that all students have mastered what they need to learn for this school year,” Carson said. “So having them in school is definitely a blessing.”

Smith agrees. He said he felt for teachers who have to prepare for day-to-day virtual learning.

“Obviously it’s a lot harder for the teachers to circle them, especially for my family. [since] we have young children,” Smith said.

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