PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Since students and teachers got the hang of remote learning technology during pandemic-initiated closures last school year, many wondered whether snow cancelations would become a thing of the past. For four of the biggest Midstate districts, it looks like that may be the case for traditional snow days.
In York and Cumberland counties, the West Shore School District will be switching to remote learning when inclement weather prevents students and staff from coming into school, according to this district’s website and its coordinator of community relations, Rhonda Fourhman.
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“Last spring when we were developing our school calendar for this school year, we surveyed parents about several features of the calendar including the use of remote learning days. We received more than 700 responses to our survey with approximately 75% supporting the use of remote learning days,” Fourhman wrote in an email.
Fourhman said respondents like the remote learning option because it guarantees that students have off during make-up days set aside later in the school year.
To preserve the excitement of playing in the snow for younger students, WSSD elementary schools have condensed schedules on remote learning days so students can finish classwork around noon and enjoy time outside, Fourhman and the district’s website explain.
The Cumberland Valley School District will similarly be using Flexible Instruction Days “instead of a closure day that must be made up at a later date,” according to information in an email sent to families by district Superintendent David Christopher.
The district describes these Flexible Instruction Days as “primarily asynchronous days for students with staff members ‘on call’ to support student needs,” and the district has five such days approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the school year.
“This format allows students to still schedule ‘snow day’ activities, while completing work that counts as a required school day,” a presentation distributed to CV families explains. The presentation also notes that this format may make it easier for older students to help supervise younger family members while they are all home from school.
The district’s presentation notes that if weather necessitates more than five Flexible Instruction Days, the additional days would be made up during scheduled breaks or at the end of the school year.
The School District of Lancaster also plans to switch to virtual Flexible Instruction Days when there is snow, but only in the event of a snowstorm that could close schools for multiple days.
“We do not anticipate using a Flexible Instruction Day for a single snow day — only for multiple consecutive days of school closure,” School District of Lancaster Coordinator of Community Relations Kelly Burkholder said in an email.
Like CV, the School District of Lancaster has been allotted five Flexible Instruction Days for the school year.
The Chambersburg Area School District has outlined three different options for snow closures, which include Flexible Instruction Days and complete cancelations. In the third option, an Emergency Instructional Day, students attend live virtual classes and follow the same schedule as they would on a typical in-person school day.
With forecasts hinting at snow this week, students hoping for a full day of relaxing probably won’t get exactly what they wish for, but they may be thankful for that when they don’t have to make up missed days later on.