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.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Tenino, Washington, Is Loaning Residents Wooden Money to Boost Its Economy

Pixabay, Pexels
Pixabay, Pexels

Like many places around the country, Tenino, Washington, has taken a financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of writing checks to residents in need, the town is printing its own money on wood in an effort to boost the local economy, CNN reports.

Any Tenino resident living below the poverty line can apply for a wooden currency loan. To qualify, they must prove they lost money as a result of the pandemic, but as town mayor Wayne Fournier told The Hustle, “we’re pretty open to what that means.”

One wooden note is worth $25, and qualified candidates can receive up to 12 of them per month—the equivalent of $300. The dollars look unique, with a retro design and a Latin inscription that roughly translates to “We’ve got this handled.” But the special money serves a larger purpose: The notes are only valid at local businesses, which ensures spenders keep the cash within the local economy instead of giving it to major retailers. When a transaction has been made, business owners can take the currency to City Hall and exchange it for real U.S. currency.

This isn't Tenino's first time enduring economic hardship. By 1931, America had entered the Great Depression, and the town's local Citizens Bank had frozen all accounts. Tenino responded by printing its first run of wooden dollars that year. That original program, which was funded by the local Chamber of Commerce instead of the town government, allowed residents to exchange up to 25 percent of their bank deposits for the wooden notes.

Today the bills from the 1930s are collector's items. The town had that part of its history in mind when it launched its new alternative currency program; the wooden dollars circulating today were even printed using the same newspaper press used to make the wooden money 90 years ago.

[h/t CNN]