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Does remote schooling mean the end of snow days? Here's what local districts are planning

Posted at 5:59 AM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 06:12:03-04

We're still likely several weeks away from snow falling in mid Michigan, but with so many Michigan students learning online this year, will snow days be a thing of the past?

There has been no clear guidance from the state yet, and school districts will ultimately decide when to call a snow day. But snow day student accounting is generally tied to school funding, so it's important they don't go over.

In the Woodhaven-Brownstown District, about 60% of students are learning face-to-face, and a snow day this year could mean those learning in-person just shift to remote learning for a day.

"We could have to prepare for that, and I don't believe we're prepared for that right now," Woodhaven-Brownstown Superintendent Mark Greathead said."On a typical snow day, we're watching the forecast three, four, sometimes five days in advance, so it's rare a snow day sneaks up on us."

Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, which is fully remote, says there will be no snow days for the time being.

Hazel Park, which is also fully remote, hasn't decided yet.

Students in the Rochester Community School District, which spans 66 square miles and two counties, are also learning online. The district is also still decided its snow day plan.

"I think it leaves us another tool in the toolbox depending on what the weather event looks like," RCS Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaner said. "If we're going to shift remote and be able to count the days in our normal pupil count, that's one circumstance."

We asked our viewers who are also parents.

Ed said, "If children can have class from home because of the pandemic, then the same can be done for snow days."

Jennifer wrote, "If teachers are still required to come to the school building to hold class and weather affects their drive, then snow days should still exist."

That's the case for the Great Lakes Learning Academy – a totally online charter school. Teachers instruct from a building in East Lansing, but Superintendent Heather Ballien said if weather affects their commute, they're equipped to work from home.

“At the end of the year, I don’t have to worry about how many forgiveness days did we use because we haven’t used any over the last seven years," Ballien said.

As for student accounting for snow days, a state representative said the state is likely going to decide on that in the next month.

The state's return-to-learn plan included a limit on snow days due in part ot virtual learning, but that was removed from the version of the bill that was actually passed.