KANSAS CITY, Mo. — They aren’t snow days, and they aren’t virtual learning days either. The state of Missouri calls them AMI days: alternate method of instruction days.
But with these frigid temperatures, many schools on the Missouri side are running out of AMI days. FOX4 looked into why these days aren’t considered the same as virtual learning and why they can’t be.
For LaTisha Randolph, wrangling three kids during a pandemic is an adjustment. All three are in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.
“I would describe it as a roller coaster, up and down all around,” Randolph said.
From virtual learning, to back into the classroom, and now AMI days instead of snow days.
“I think it took a lot of patience for us during the pandemic and just a lot of trying to be understanding at all levels,” Randolph said.
The new form of learning can be used up to five days in a year per district. Lee’s Summit used its fifth AMI day Tuesday. Now, the district will have to take actual snow days, and from here on out, they’ll be tacked on to the end of the year.
Some wonder why districts can’t count future bad weather days as virtual learning instead of extending the school year.
Dr. Chris Neal, assistant commissioner for Missouri’s Department of Elementary & Secondary Education’s Office of Quality Schools, said it comes down to how funding is allotted and guidelines in the law.
“It’s really about state aid because schools need the state aid to keep operating, so both the AMI law and the AMI regulation are really about what qualifies for state aid,” Neal said.
If districts pile up too many snow days, it’s possible the state could waive them if districts apply, but it would be the same application process as any other year. The pandemic would have no effect on the application.
“Those who might ask us to change it are asking the impossible of us. I’m not unsympathetic. It’s just beyond our power to rewrite the law. Those are, that’s the the responsibility of the elected officials. And we certainly want to execute whatever law is written,” Neal said.
“It won’t be here forever. It’ll be spring before we know it. So I just weather the storm, get through the season, and look forward to the next one,” Randolph said.
Neal said the state is only approved to continue with virtual learning through this school year. This coming fall, he said they hope to have all kids back in school buildings.