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. She 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 some public school districts are starting to use the flexibility that technology provides. It helps to work around the weather and meet 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. It led to school days during Easter Break and pushed the school year a few days into summer. That 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. It's 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.

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?

Minnesota's Department of Education has been wrestling with how to effectively bring virtual classes to public schools. But 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. That would allow those virtual class days to 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?

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  • kr2001blue
    11/14/2014 - 08:41 a.m.

    They make more sense because they have equipment provided for them. the public schools have no equipment at all. they may be used to it since they have been doing it more most snow days. public schools are used to having no work

  • ad2000softball
    11/14/2014 - 08:44 a.m.

    Virtual days make more sense for Cathedral than most public schools because the school provides technology that the students would be able to use at home

  • devon2015
    11/14/2014 - 09:18 a.m.

    I think that students of Cathedral should be able to play in the snow cause where i live there is no snow AT ALL.

  • hadleyc-ezz
    11/14/2014 - 11:18 a.m.

    i wish my school would let us work on lap tops from home that would be awesome and i also love the snow it is amazing so white and fun to play in its so soft and fluffy but ya i wish i could work on a lap top at home for school anyone that can do that is really lucky

  • BeccaBoo123
    11/14/2014 - 12:05 p.m.

    I disagree with the principle. kids deserve a snow day at least once in a while and what would happen if you didn't have a laptop or and iPad?

  • theamazingchickenlizard
    11/14/2014 - 12:18 p.m.

    That is pretty harsh! I hope my school does not do that! I guess that sort of makes sense for private schools because they have nice computers,but that is pretty bad I love snow days! I hope other schools do not do this, but I'm all for technology in schools just not like this.

  • valorgosch
    11/14/2014 - 12:38 p.m.

    A school in minnesota plans to work around the unforeseeable consequences of weather by using technology such as laptops and Ipad. The school currently doing this is a private one but public schools are taking a note from this school and attempting to put it into play. While they may not have the finances to do it with technology they have system in which they send students home with a bag filled with home work.

  • MS01bestfreind
    11/14/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    I dislike snow days, because my birthday is around the time were it would usually snow. No one really wants to go out on snow days and get stuck somewhere.

  • ct2000green
    11/14/2014 - 01:00 p.m.

    This is so weird, how are there no snow days. If the storm is really bad then does that mean that there is no school, and what classifies as a really bad snow storm. Also, what happens if a student decides to skip this day, does he/she make it up in the summer?

  • TreyvaunT
    11/14/2014 - 01:28 p.m.

    I'd like it because we would be able to get out of school at the right time for summer. I wouldn't like it to because it takes the purpose out of having a cancellation from snow.

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