Will the rise of remote learning mean the end of snow days?

Monday, December 14, 2020
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Though the pandemic has paused a good portion of day-to-day life, when it comes to school snow days - it's a whole new ball game.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The first major snowfall in recent years is on the horizon.

During a year of many unprecedented challenges, it's only fair some are skeptical of the snow day to come.

"Definitely won't be conventional, I guess. Probably going to see a lot more people out playing in it," said South Philadelphia resident Tara Galbraith.

Sure it's going to be different. Are people going to listen?

"Who knows," added Eugene Woodard.

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School districts sure are. And in short, though the pandemic has paused a good portion of day-to-day life, when it comes to school snow days - it's a whole new ball game.

"Considering the world that we're in right now, there is no reason to have a snow day because we are all learning remotely," said School District of Philadelphia spokesperson Monica Lewis.

Lewis said that's not to say snow days are gone for good.

"If we continue to do what it is we've been asked to do - wear masks, social distance, practice good hygiene - we'll be back in the classroom soon enough," she said.

Centennial School District in Bucks County is also keeping students at home Wednesday for remote learning.

"We just don't want kids to go that long without having synchronous interaction with their teachers," said Dr. Dennis Best, Asst. to the Superintendent of Schools and Student Services.

School officials say there is, however, a plan yet to be announced to ensure students aren't left without some kind of snow day.

"We're developing a shortened schedule to use in the future," Best said.

Hybrid school districts like Radnor in Delaware County say - as things stand - in lieu of a snow day, students and staff will be switching to all virtual for the day.

New this year: when that call is made.

"We're looking to you guys to get us a good forecast and we're going to make the decision based on the forecast the night before instead of waiting till the morning of," said Ken Batchelor, Superintendent of Schools.

Radnor isn't doing away with snow days but they have changed their academic calendar for next year. Instead of four true snow days, they'll now have one.

"There's something magical for our kids - and I would argue even some of our staff - to enjoy a good snow day," Batchelor said.

The North Penn School District in Montgomery County says the plan, for now, is to switch to virtual learning on Wednesday, with a traditional snow day on Thursday if the snow is significant. A final decision is expected Wednesday evening.