Instructional Hours and Student Attendance

Additional Information on Instructional Hours and Student Attendance for the 2019-2020 School Year

Ohio’s ordered school-building closure and subsequent emergency legislation (House Bill 197 of the 133rd General Assembly; section 15) have implications for how districts and schools meet minimum instructional hours requirements. The emergency legislation provides certain schools with more flexibility in using remote learning to meet the instructional hours requirement. However, it does not waive the instructional hours requirements found in Ohio Revised Code section 3313.48 for traditional districts, joint vocational school districts and chartered nonpublic schools; sections 3314.03(A)(11) or 3314.08(H) for community schools; and section 3326.11 for STEM schools.  

School districts, joint vocational school districts and chartered nonpublic schools are required to provide instruction for a minimum of: 

  • 455 hours for students in half-day kindergarten. 
  • 910 hours for students in full-day kindergarten through grade 6. 
  • 1,001 hours for students in grades 7-12. 
  • ​Community schools are required to offer a minimum of 920 hours per year.  

The Governor’s expressed intent is for schools to continue providing educational services and learning opportunities to students through alternative means during this ordered school-building closure period. (Visit Ohio’s Remote Learning Resource Guide for more information on remote learning strategies and approaches.)   

Districts and schools may have many questions regarding how to meet those requirements for the 2019-2020 school year, how to utilize the flexibility provided by HB 197 and the implications for student attendance reporting and requirements. This information is intended to provide information in response to those questions.  

Minimum Instructional Hours  

The Ohio Department of Education has published multiple frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) related to the ordered school-building closure. In those initial FAQs, it was stated schools should make a good faith effort within available capabilities to support continued learning outside of school. This could be done in a variety of ways, including remote learning opportunities, depending on available options at the local level.  

Schools should implement plans to continue instruction, including during the ordered school-building closure period, and meet the instructional hours requirements through the duration of their locally approved calendars.   

As outlined in Ohio Revised Code section 3313.482, districts already should have plans to address instruction in the case of short-term calamities. Those plans should be implemented and revised as appropriate to address the longer-term reality of the ordered school-building closure. HB 197 (Section 15) explicitly affords boards of education and most governing authorities the ability to amend or adopt new plans. In amending or adopting new plans, schools should feel free to include the full range of remote learning strategies, including the use of online learning, as they seek to continue providing educational services and supports to students. While Ohio Revised Code section 3313.482 provides some extended student assignment deadlines during short-term closures, during the current coronavirus-related ordered school-building closure period, districts should maintain flexibility to address assignment completion deadlines based on local needs.  

As stated in the coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ, schools and districts should not consider shortening their school years or ending school early. 

E-schools. The Governor’s ordered school-building closure applies to school buildings only. Internet- or computer-based schools should continue operations in their normal fashion according to their regular calendars. For e-schools and community schools implementing blended learning, schools must document all non-classroom-based learning opportunities. For more information, please consult the FY20 FTE Manual and the informational document for Community Schools on the Department’s coronavirus webpage.  

Career-tech courses. Career-technical education students should complete their courses based on the demonstration of the learning expectations, not based on time spent in courses. Typically, minimum course hours are based on the scheduled seat time of a class. In remote learning, the completion of a course should be based on the demonstration of the learning expectations for the course. 

EMIS Reporting 

Districts and schools must continue to report EMIS data. The EMIS reporting instructions will be updated to repurpose the code previously used only for calamity days to now mean calamity days prior to March 1, 2020, and days closed due to ordered school-building closure after March 1, 2020. Any true calamity days used after March 1, 2020, to the end of the 2019-2020 school year will be reported, per the updated EMIS instructions, with a different EMIS code to differentiate those days from ordered school-building closure days. Districts and schools should locally track these true calamity days, report those that occur after March 1 using the different EMIS code1 and manage their impact as they would under normal circumstances. 

Districts and community schools (with the exception of e-schools and community schools that use blended learning). The “calamity day” code now will be used as a “calamity day/school-building closure day” code. In addition to other typical calamity days, districts and community schools must report a calamity/closure day for each day of the ordered school-building closure. For each day the school takes advantage of the flexibility and makes a good faith effort to offer instructional programming to students, the time made up should be reported in EMIS using the “blizzard bag” code. Those hours will count toward meeting the minimum required for the year. For each day a school's flexible plan is in place, the school may count the instructional hours that were originally planned for that day toward the instructional hours requirement. For any day the district does not take advantage of the flexibility and does not make a good faith effort to offer instruction to its students, the district should report the day only as a true calamity day (using the different EMIS code referenced in the prior paragraph). 

Please note that EMIS reporting will use the “calamity day” code for reporting purposes for days during which school buildings are closed but instruction continues to take place. This is being done to avoid delays and challenges in updating student software systems. However, the state will not consider these days as calamity days. These coded days will reflect that buildings are physically closed, but instruction is taking place remotely. Districts and schools should not consider this time as calamity days for any other purposes. 

For more information regarding EMIS reporting, see the special EMIS Manual section of reporting instructions related to Ohio’s school-building closure period. If there are additional questions, EMIS coordinators can contact the Helpdesk through their Information Technology Centers, and non-EMIS staff can email  

E-schools or community schools that use blended learning. E-schools are not included in the HB 197 provisions related to flexibility in meeting minimum hours and must continue to document hours of instruction based on their software capturing logins and logoffs. Community schools implementing blended learning similarly must document all non-classroom-based learning opportunities. For more information, please consult the FY20 FTE Manual


Student Attendance and House Bill 410 Intervention Requirements 

(This section does not apply to students in e-schools or community schools operating blended models. Information on e-school attendance can be found on the Department's coronavirus webpage.)  

HB 197 did not waive the absence and truancy requirements of HB 410. However, the state recognizes districts need flexibility in addressing issues of student attendance. The Department’s COVID-19 FAQ states: 

We recognize that attempting to track student attendance under such circumstances would be extremely complicated. Consequently, students will be deemed to be in attendance during the non-spring-break periods included in the ordered school-building closure.  

While all students whose learning was interrupted by the ordered school-building closure will be counted as present during this time, it is expected that districts and schools are making a good faith effort, using processes and strategies within their capabilities, to ensure students are regularly participating in educational opportunities and are provided with supports when needed.  

The opportunity to engage fully in remote learning is an equity challenge for Ohio’s disadvantaged students. Students and families will have varying degrees of access to digital resources. Students may be in home environments that are not ideal settings for remote learning (for example, lack of quiet workspace or competing responsibilities). Families will be dealing with other stressors, such as job loss or increased health concerns. Resources that can inform effective remote learning practices can be found in the Department’s Remote Learning Guide.   

Teachers, social workers, counselors and other supportive staff should attempt to make regular contact with students and their families; and districts should have a process in place to provide supports when families are not participating.  

Students will not accrue absence hours toward truancy during this time, thus will not be placed on formal absence intervention plans. Districts should continue to work with their local child welfare agencies, juvenile courts and other community partners to ensure the health and safety of students. Educators must continue to report suspected abuse and neglect to county child welfare agencies as mandated reporters. See the information document on the Department’s coronavirus webpage related to children’s services.   

Students with absence intervention plans in place prior to the ordered school-building closure should be provided supports outlined in the plan to the extent possible. Districts must check in with those students for the duration of the implementation period of the plan through alternative means, such as phone calls, video chat, emails or other ways to accommodate the needs of the families. At the end of the 60-day period, the district’s absence intervention team must determine if the student made “satisfactory progress” and if it will choose to file a truancy complaint with the county juvenile court. “Satisfactory progress” should be considered based on individual student needs and account for barriers the student may have faced while implementing the plan during the school building closure. 

Partnership with the local juvenile court is essential during this time. It is recommended that districts collaborate with juvenile courts to understand how best to handle truancy complaints of students who were truant before the closure and were not able to make satisfactory progress. 

Other Relevant Information 

  • The Department recently published considerations for serving students with disabilities during the ordered school-building closure. Many of these strategies can apply to addressing student engagement with all students. 
  • The Department also published additional information regarding the impact of the ordered school-building closure and provisions of HB 197 on Ohio School Report Cards. There will be limited or no chronic absenteeism data reported for the 2019-2020 school year. More information will be provided regarding the 2020-2021 Ohio School Report Cards as it becomes available, including the impact on the Improving Chronic Absenteeism Indicator. 

1 The number of true calamity days will be the total of days coded as "calamity" prior to March 1 and days coded with the alternative EMIS code on or after March 1.

Last Modified: 5/3/2022 9:32:16 AM