Pennsylvania Schools Are Considering Replacing Snow Days With Work From Home Days for Students

tatyana_tomsickova/iStock via Getty Images
tatyana_tomsickova/iStock via Getty Images

Warming temperatures aren’t the only thing rendering snow days obsolete. Although the weather outside might be frightful come the winter months, Pennsylvania state lawmakers have approved a bill that would allow schools to have students work from home instead of enjoying a surprise day off.

"School districts need the added flexibility of ensuring their students' continuity of education is not interrupted by the weather or any other unplanned school closure," senator Kristin Phillips-Hill said in a statement.

According to WPXI, some areas in western Pennsylvania—including the Seneca Valley School District, just outside of Pittsburgh—have already done some trial runs with this model. The district’s superintendent, Tracy Vitale, said that students who are kept home for more than one snow day find their time off to be "no longer fun" (though we're not sure all kids would agree with that statement). "Secondary students—grades 7 through 12—they loved it,” Vitale said. "They would sleep in, and then when they would wake up, [would do the work] on their own time."

Rather than interrupting parents' schedules and taking from other days throughout the year, these flex days would count toward mandated teaching time in order to keep students’s education on track. The required schoolwork is completed via portals that kids can access from the comfort of their own homes. The program has experienced a few expected bumps in the road, one being that not all students have internet access. (And in more extreme weather cases, loss of power would be an issue.) Otherwise, Central York District superintendent Michael Snell said the work-from-home model has been met with "rave reviews."

This isn’t the first time Pennsylvania school officials have proposed leveraging the power of the internet to improve education. In 2015, CBS Local reported that Pennsylvania’s Quakertown School District considered implementing “cyber days” in order to make sure schools were hitting their 180-day requirement.

"Snow days are supposed to be fun—if all goes the right way, school should be fun, too,” said district superintendent Dr. William E. Harner. "Even using gaming instruction is an incredibly effective way of offering instruction."

The law is not entirely set in stone yet: In order to be officially put into effect, the bill still requires the signature of Governor Tom Wolf. Should he approve it, eligible schools would have the option of using a maximum of five flexible instruction days each year.

Tax Day for Americans Will Be Pushed Back to July 15

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Enterline Design Services LLC

On Friday morning, less than a month before the American tax filing deadline of April 15, treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin announced via Twitter that Tax Day will be pushed back by three months—to July 15, 2020—in order to allow individuals and businesses dealing with the physical, financial, and logistical repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic some extra time to get their financial matters in order.

While the date change applies to all American individuals, businesses, and organizations—and no interest or penalties will accrue during this time—Mnuchin, in a second tweet, did suggest that anyone who has completed their taxes submit them now "to get your money."

No further details were given, though we're sure a more detailed statement will be coming as, at the time of publication, even the IRS's site still noted April 15 as the deadline.

In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln created the first income tax as a way to cover Civil War expenses. Calculating what you owed was a lot easier back then: It was a 3 percent flat tax on all incomes above $800. But it wasn't until 1913, with the passage of the 16th Amendment, that Congress formalized a nationwide income tax. Originally, Tax Day was March 1; a few years later, it was pushed back to March 15.

In 1955, revisions to the tax code moved the date back again to April 15, though there have been some exceptions. In 2016, 2017, and 2018, Americans got a few extra days to file because Tax Day cannot fall on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. But why did it move from March 1 in the first place? The IRS claims it needed more time to process returns, but tax experts believe that an increase in refunds for the middle class meant the agency wanted to hold onto its money longer and collect interest.

We're Hiring a Part-Time Editorial Assistant

zakokor/iStock via Getty Images
zakokor/iStock via Getty Images

Mental Floss is hiring a part-time editorial assistant for our New York City office (though part of your hours can be worked remotely). We’re looking for a rabidly curious individual who is interested in contributing to various aspects of MentalFloss.com.

You can write about almost anything, and you will: Why Paraguay loves Rutherford B. Hayes. What people did for fun in the 16th century. Why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were so obsessed with pizza. Chaucer. Mini-golf. Drones. Why Syrian golden hamsters spend so much time at the liquor store.

In addition to writing, researching, photo sourcing, web production, and pitching story ideas, you’ll have the opportunity to assist our social media editor with conceptualizing and executing ideas for our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels and sharing the new content we post daily. You’ll also have the chance to work with our video team to write and produce our slate of YouTube series; pitch in on our new podcast; and be a part of our monthly team brainstorms. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone looking to learn the digital publishing industry from the ground up, to be able to contribute to some fun (and sometimes bizarre) projects, and to earn some bylines on our Webby Award-winning website.

You’ll be working approximately 15-20 hours per week (and can spend some of that time working remotely, though onsite hours will be required). The position starts ASAP and pays $15/hour. Though it’s scheduled to be a two- to three-month position, the opportunity to continue on after that may be possible.

Ideal candidates will have:
- At least one year of writing and/or editing experience (classes, school-based projects, and/or personal blogs or websites count)
- A natural curiosity and the ability to generate tons of story ideas and execute timely stories on tight deadlines
- Strong attention to detail and multitasking skills
- Energetic, positive written voice, and the ability to translate complicated concepts into accessible writing
- Strong research skills
- Ability to work and collaborate with a team

Click here for more information, and to submit your application.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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