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Districts Plan to Replace Snow Days with Virtual Learning Days

Districts Plan to Replace Snow Days with Virtual Learning Days

In some parts of the nation, winter's arrival brings the threat of snow days. Some districts plan to overcome canceled school and lost instructional time with virtual school days. 

In one school district in Kentucky, each winter "there are more than 30 days when there’s too much snow to get students to school safely," said an article on HechingerReport.com. In response, the district "pioneered virtual school in the winter several years ago, getting students to hang up sleds and log online for classes on snow days."

Many areas of the country, however, "lack access to high-speed Internet service, that is not a problem in this district," the article said. "But some students do not have computers at home."

“The next problem is how do we get devices to the most needy kids,” said superintendent Tim Bobrowski. “We work in a very impoverished area — that’s a challenge.”

More schools, the article said, "are considering the options for virtual school when teachers or students cannot get to school. A new pilot in Pennsylvania was approved by this year. A school district in Georgia recently approved plans to offer lessons online when there is too much snow to open school buildings."

"The experiences of those who have already tried virtual school days show that it’s not as easy as it might seem to offer a meaningful education in this format," the article said. "But some of the early adopters, such as Owsley County, didn’t let the uncertainty stop them. They saw each obstacle as a problem to solve, not an excuse to quit."

In New Jersey, "state lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow virtual school days to count toward the mandatory 180-day school year."

“It is an outdated law,” said superintendent Erik Gundersen of the Pascack Valley Regional High School District in northeast New Jersey.

"That has encouraged his relatively wealthy district to try a pilot program," the article said. "Fewer than 10 of the 2,000 students had no Internet access at home, so that wasn’t a problem. Also, the district has an 11-year-old program that gives students access to a school-owned computer that they can take home. Teachers have been using a variety of online learning programs so that students can work remotely on lessons. The teachers will soon move to one, unified system, which should help students because they won’t have to learn a new program for each teacher."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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