Love snow days? They're becoming a thing of the past
Love snow days? They're becoming a thing of the past Perry Stephens waits to move her car after multiple collisions occurred at an intersection, following a snowfall in Duluth, Minnesota on November 10th (Reuters)
Love snow days? They're becoming a thing of the past
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She's no Grinch about it, but Lynn Grewing is the principal who stole snow days.

The early arrival of wintry weather in the Midwest gave Grewing an opening to test out a virtual class day at St. Cloud Cathedral high school in central Minnesota. Grewing is having students whip out laptops or iPads and work from home. After a successful test run, Grewing declared that the students' cherished snow days are a thing of the past at least at Cathedral.

"This is what we will be doing every single snow day going forward," she said. "I'll be honest. There has been some grumbling."

Private schools like Cathedral and, increasingly, some public school districts are starting to use the flexibility that technology provides to work around weather, meeting school mandates without make-up days.

Last winter's brutal cold and snow forced the cancellation of five days of class at Grewing's school, leading to school days during Easter Break and pushing the school year a few days into summer. The polar vortex got Grewing thinking about how to bring another Minnesota private school's successful virtual class setup to Cathedral.

A test run was planned when the threat of record snows closed schools in the St. Cloud area, about 60 miles northwest of Minneapolis. Principal Grewing ensured teachers had their assignments and lesson plans posted on the school's online portal by 10 a.m. for their seventh- through 12th-graders.

Cathedral senior Tommy Auger said doing classwork on his school MacBook Air from home didn't feel much different than a day in class. His math teacher even put up videos to walk students through solving problems.

Once they got over the initial disappointment of missing out on a free day, Auger said he and his classmates agreed they'd prefer to skip out on a day of sledding rather than make-up days in the summer.

"It's hard to think ahead, but it's definitely better," he said.

It's an easier choice for smaller private schools like Cathedral, which has provided all its students with high-end laptops. But what about public school students who don't have that equipment, or don't have Internet access at home?

A panel from Minnesota's Department of Education has been wrestling with how to effectively bring virtual classes to public schools. Department spokesman Josh Collins said the state hasn't received much interest from school districts.

Iowa public schools found a work-around for Minnesota's concerns. Students without computer or Internet access get sent home with "blizzard bags" of homework. More than half of the state's 1,000 school districts have submitted plans to the state for hosting virtual makeup days.

More than 2,000 public high school students outside of New York City logged into their MacBook Airs from home as a storm bore down on the East Coast last February. Their superintendent, Erik Gundersen from Pascack Valley Regional High School District, is hoping lawmakers change state law so those virtual class days count toward the state's 180-day mandate.

"It's not right for every day," Gundersen said. "From time to time, when school needs to be closed, it's a great way to continue the learning."

Critical thinking challenge: Why do virtual days make more sense for Cathedral than most public schools?

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/love-snow-days-theyre-becoming-thing-past/

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COMMENTS (108)
  • MacarenaPaz
    11/16/2014 - 05:13 p.m.

    This post reports on how a private school in Minnesota resolved to quit skipping school days due to the snow (snow days) and make the most of them by working on line. They tested this new procedure and turned out to be a success, and now many other schools are looking forward to trying this new modality out.

    In my city we don't have snow days (but we have floods and earthquakes instead), I only know of them thanks to the cartoons I used to watch when I was younger, most specifically Hey, Arnold!. I remember they would wake up and listened to the radio reports and hoped for their high school to be named among the ones that had suspended classes. They would play all day long out on the snow making snow angels and snow fights. I believe children craved for those days, and now they won't have any option but to stay in, working on the computer all morning doing homework, and it's a shame. Everyone needs to make a pause, especially on snow days. It is a relief also for teachers, and having to prepare material for e-learning days and to upload the whole thing before 10,and even having to record tutorials for the resolutions of activities is a huge extra load that educators don't need! Even if they're more tan the average working on a private school. The work of a teacher is already immensely demanding as such.

    CTC: Virtual days can only be such on schools where every single student has a laptop and Internet access. This is not the case in public schools.

  • tcarcamobustos
    11/16/2014 - 07:58 p.m.

    This post its about the big problem that American people have with the weather, specially snow and how this condition affects to everybody. In this case the post is focus in the education, the students and their classes because of the weather sometimes its impossible to get to the school but fortunately some schools and teacher found the solution, virtual classes, with technology teachers can communicate with their students and make their classes.
    But this new idea has disadvantages too. One of them is that not all the students have access to Internet or have computers in their homes so its quite complicated and unfair for them but the different districts are working in that.

    In my opinion its an excellent idea because students dont miss any class and they can go to their vacation on time during the summer but the government or the district has to work on finding a solution for those students who dont have the facilities like Internet or computers in their homes. Because its no fair that some children have their vacations earlier.

  • 8annat
    11/17/2014 - 12:26 p.m.

    My opinion on "virtual snow days" is that they are a great idea. I think that having a free day off is a waste of time because there is just wasted classroom time. However, if you can make use of the day, and have on line assignments or classes, it makes up for the lost school time. Also, I think that having a virtual classroom day should be used as a part of the required 180 days in a school year, because there is still school work being done, it doesn't need to be done in a classroom at all times. On the other hand, if there is virtual snow days, students may not do all of the work, and just take it as a free day. Overall, I think that having a "virtual snow day" is a fantastic idea, because it allows students to still do school work and make use of a missed day of school.

  • CA2001wolf
    11/17/2014 - 01:06 p.m.

    I think students need snow days because what happens if the power goes out or something and what student wants to be stuck doing school work at home when you could be outside.

  • TaylorHartman-Ste
    11/17/2014 - 01:19 p.m.

    If I were a teacher, I believe that I would very much enjoy the fact that my curriculum is being taken home and that my students are taking the initiative to learn.

  • 9MaddyR
    11/17/2014 - 02:47 p.m.

    That a really good idea because at the time kids love snow day but when we have a lot and have to take up summer time they get upset so you might as will do online class on snow days. It makes sense cause most of are home works online now day

  • KAnthony-Cas
    11/17/2014 - 05:49 p.m.

    I do not like this idea at all in my opinion. But on the other hand I think it is very smart. This world is becoming too technological for me.

  • Michaegs
    11/17/2014 - 06:03 p.m.

    I personally don't think removing snow-days is a good idea. Not only for the students but the staff members. It could be a hassle for some people to get it set up, some students may also not have internet at home, so what will they do? Where will they go if they don't have this technology to participate? Many kids won't try because they will have distractions around them whereas if they are at school they have to maintain focus. This is why I think snow-days are good, but this would be a good idea if schools are going to start cutting into Summer vacation.

  • ARany-Cas
    11/17/2014 - 07:21 p.m.

    Virtual days make more sense for Cathedral than most public schools because private schools provide technology for the student. To be able to afford the technology for all of the student you need lots of money. Most of the public schools cant afford it because students aren't paying, but private schools have lots of money to afford it. I think that's a good idea so at the end of the year you don't need to make up any snow days at the end of the year.

  • MPhilip-Cas
    11/17/2014 - 07:27 p.m.

    Why "virtual days" make more sense for Cathedral than most public schools is in the article its says that the Cathedral have more kids with access to the Internet. Almost all of the students in Cathedral have laptops as well. In public schools they may be less technologically advanced then Cathedral or private schools and that's true in most cases. In my opinion I don't think these "virtual days" would work because students can lie easily or get distracted from there work or get the work from friends without doing it themselves.

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