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