Virtual learning cancels the traditional snow day

NOW: Virtual learning cancels the traditional snow day

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WARSAW, Ind. - As we head into the heart of winter across Michiana, perhaps the only thing left to excite kids after Christmas is over is a snow day.

But with school districts forced to invest thousands into turning the school day virtual, will snow days go away?

As temperatures start to dip below 32 degrees, one thing probably comes to your kid's mind, when will it be cold enough to throw some snowballs?

But with virtual learning, the way of the future, are snow days now a thing of the past?

“I've seen a lot of posts going around about the end of the traditional snow day you know something that brings up a lot of great memories with us I always remember waking up in the morning and watching the television as the things would scroll across the bottom," David Hoffert, Ph.D., the Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent said.

Dr. Hoffert vividly remembers how fun it was as a kid to stay home from school.

“Getting to go back to bed and going out and building a snowman and you know all of those pieces. We hope that those are not days that are dead and gone, and instead, we want to, help refocus those," he said.

A typical Michiana winter means lots of snow and cold. Snow and cold traditionally lead to at least a couple of snow days each year.

"We used to have built-in calendar days, and we would have probably two to three built-in calendar days every year. But then we always ended up having to extend our school year, usually by about five or six days at the end of the school year," he said.

But thanks to COVID-19 school systems were forced to rethink the school day.

Go virtual - and potentially put an end to the traditional snow day.

"When the pandemic hit it really changed the way that we look at things, and our units have now become very forward-facing so what were we going to do on the normal school day, and then how do we create that that live interaction that is happening on that day of cancellation," he said.

But what happens if the power or internet goes out?

On January 4th, a large power outage in saint joseph county caused by an ice storm forced a few districts to cancel classes both in-person and virtually. (make sure to cover this with file vo from that morning/weather vo etc.)

"If something was just shut down where again it was inhibiting our teachers from being able to go forward and really providing quality instruction for that day we would end up canceling that and then we would work out something," he said.

Previously, Warsaw schools made up that day in a unique way.

"While the school was canceled for the day, we ended up doing that eLearning day on a weekend. So it gave them that opportunity to still have that snow day it gave them the gave our teachers an opportunity to really put their lesson plan together," he said.

So is the snow day gone forever?

This superintendent doesn’t think so.

"If we were to have a major blizzard that would come through, I would not foresee us going straight through with eLearning days I would see us possibly having some modifications where again there might be a snow day in the middle of it," he said.

Since Warsaw Schools is part of a lake community, the Superintendent tells me they have strict schedules to allow for more time in the summer. It also means the district has to get creative with any canceled school days.

Coming up this Thursday, we’re headed to Edwardsburg to see how schedules have changed in general these past 12 months.

As always, if you have a question or concern regarding your school district - reach out! LearningCurve@abc57.com

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