In Kentucky this winter, mom and dad will no longer the only people in the family that have the option to telecommute during inclement weather.
After last year’s brutal winter, which kept students at home for four times as many snow days as the previous year, Kentucky is launching an educational experiment. They’re attempting to do away with snow days all together, and instead will ask students to work on assignments from home, called “snow packets.”
The AP reports:
Thirteen school districts are part of an expanded program allowing students to complete assignments from home either by downloading them or working from packets prepared and sent home ahead of time. In exchange, the state will forgive up to 10 makeup days.
“If you could make this work, you would never have a snow day,” said David Cook, director of innovation and quality management for the Kentucky Department of Education. “You would just have kids doing this kind of instruction and learning anytime you have snow.”
Schools in Owsley County, where 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, missed 30 days because of snow last year. Owsley officials say they embraced the program because interrupting schooling takes a disproportionate toll on high-risk students.
“It is going to impact us more if we don’t do something.” said Tim Bobrowski, the county’s school superintendent.
However, relying on the internet to connect with students on these un-snow days might not be that easy. Again from the AP:
Coping with fierce winter weather by teaching over the Internet has become more common in recent years, but it’s harder in states like Kentucky, which ranks 46th out of 50 states for availability of high speed Internet. The problem is most pronounced in rural counties, which is why the state is moving forward with a $200 million plan to lay 3,000 miles of fiber-optic cables.
WKYT also reports that school staff will still need to be at the school on a snow day, giving the students an easy way to get in touch with teachers.
It’s not entirely clear how these days aren’t going to end up being snow days for the students, even if the schools aren’t counting them against a quota. Isn’t another term for “snow packets” just simply “homework?” And wouldn’t students need to complete their homework assignments the night before school resumed, anyways?
It’s also a little disconcerting that teachers and staff would be required to commute to school in potentially dangerous conditions, even if the children weren’t.
What do you think? Tell us in the poll, and feel free to elaborate in the comments.