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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 05/18/2011

Gasp! No more snow days?


Sledding after a snowfall in 2005. Virtual school sessions via the internet could eliminate school days in the future, cutting back sled time. (Kevin Ambrose)
The Associated Press (AP) is reporting the internet may allow schools to remain open for business - in a virtual sense - even during crippling snowstorms:

Virtual learning, which has been widely used by colleges and universities for years, is becoming more viable for younger students as teachers and administrators grow comfortable with the technology. Online learning also saves money because districts don’t have to pay for transportation, electricity and custodians.

Mark me down as against this. Aren’t snow days a rite of passage during childhood school years?

I like this part of AP’s report:

...some people say kids just need an occasional extra day off in the depths of winter.

“When deep snow falls, the world becomes quiet and still. And if we listen to our instincts, we settle in and enjoy the pure joy of not doing,” David Santner wrote on the website for the Poughkeepsie Day School in New York, where his son is a middle schooler, after the school turned to online learning during a spate of winter storms.

For schoolchildren, old-fashioned snow days used to mean languorous hours spent playing outside in the drifts, watching television or sipping hot chocolate.

Hopefully, it always will. And it’s not just children who appreciate (and occasionally need) a snow day. Teachers do too.

Fortunately, the AP says, there are obstacles this kind of initiative must hurdle:

Many families don’t have Internet access with speeds that would support complex classroom-style work, especially in rural areas and impoverished inner cities. Families with multiple children — without multiple computers — could be hard-pressed to keep up.

(Having said that, of course I hope all American families will be able to afford or have high speed internet access in the future)

Another obstacle: what happens during power outages?

An unintended consequence of no school days? Fewer meteorologists. For me, the suspense/allure of knowing when the next snow day would be was an important driver of my interest in weather forecasting.

Were it not for snow days, the Capital Weather Gang may have never come into existence. Seriously.

In the spirit of fairness/balance, there are good, legitimate reasons for virtual learning during snowstorms which the AP article describes. Maybe a good compromise would be to have a “shortened” or condensed virtual school day (a few hours - I’d suggest focused on weather education) when it snows - so learning can continue while students/teachers can enjoy the splendor of snow.

What do you think?

By  |  12:30 PM ET, 05/18/2011

Categories:  Winter Storms, Latest, Humor

 
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