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What learning looks like post-pandemic when school is closed for bad weather

Posted at 12:10 PM, Jan 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-29 14:10:08-05

Post-pandemic, some school districts around the country automatically make the switch to remote learning when classes get canceled because of bad weather. Others are keeping the traditional snow days or inclement weather days, but have discovered new ways to maximize learning time.

Fertile-Beltrami Public School in Minnesota embraces e-learning. Principal Natty Messick says that was the case even before COVID-19 hit, adding the district has fine-tuned its process since then.

"So if we have a snow day, we can conduct school virtually, and then we can still count that as a school day. So the way Minnesota works is we can do up to five days within a school year."

"So if anything beyond that, we would have to make up or add to our calendar."

"All of our teachers have a lesson plan online, and the students know how to access it through their Google Classroom site."

"It's asynchronous learning, so students are just to go to their site and get their lessons that way."

"It's been going well, I would say."

Remote learning during the pandemic wasn't a success for every district.

"As a result of the overall negative impact and struggle with remote learning 'on scale' during COVID for our age 3-14 (grades PK-8) students, we made a deliberate decision to avoid e-learning 'on scale,'" said Michael Lubelfeld, Superintendent of Schools with North Shore School District 112 in Highwood, IL.

"We will not cause parents of the younger children the strain and stress of managing "school" as we had them do during COVID," he added.

Mark D. Benigni, Superintendent of Schools at Meriden Public Schools in Connecticut, says his district's inclement weather policy has not changed post-COVID.

"We either do a 2-hour delay, close for a day or do a weather-related early dismissal."

"We would love a virtual option to count as a school day- technology certainly allows for secondary students to complete work when at home for weather closures.... just could not ask teachers to plan for a snow day and then again for makeup day."

Leesburg High School just outside of Orlando, has found a different way to enhance learning time -- night school. A program that started because of COVID.

"So we have students that live in poverty and live under that economic threshold that are earners for their household. And they are having to work at times," said Principal Michael Randolph.

Randolph says it's been so successful the school saw improvements in their graduation rates.

"This is our first time in school history that we are over 85% graduation rate for three consecutive years."

"Our students have done a really good job of understanding and taking ownership of their learning as they're seeking their graduation," Randolph added.

Tablets or no tablets during a day off, districts say keeping the decision at a local level is important since there are so many factors to consider. Not just the weather.

"It's not apples to apples. We all have different things going on. We all have different situations. We have different levels of access," said Messick.

"Depending on your state, depending on your area, your area is going to need different things based on the data. So I do believe it should stay at a local level," said Randolph.