Could virtual learning mean the end of snow days?

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PARMA, Ohio (WJW)– Although many may prefer to keep thoughts of snow away for a little while longer, calamity hours or snow days are already on the mind of school district leaders and some parents across Northeast Ohio.

“Snow days in the pandemic, I mean, if you’re home I don’t know,” said Cleveland parent Elizabeth Healey. “Do you really need a snow day?”

A Chardon Local Schools spokesperson said they will use calamity hours per district policy. The use of more than 10 calamity days would result in make-up days for students and staff. 

A spokesperson for Akron Public Schools issued the below statement:

“In most cases—our union members are not required to work on calamity days. Since we have had online learning platforms for quite some time, our students can be given online assignments to be completed, on snow days, without their teachers being present.”

North Ridgeville City Schools has a similar plan. A district spokesperson said when weather closes school those days will be called “asynchronous days.” The district said students will be provided work to do from home while teachers and other staff members will provide support remotely.

The spokesperson for the Elyria City School District said although virtual capabilities opened up additional opportunities in the future the district is not at the point to make decisions on a calamity day scenario.

At Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools the public relations coordinator stated, “It has not yet been determined how we will handle calamity days that are brought on by inclement weather.”

Charles Smialek, superintendent of the Parma City School District says calamity hours will be used when necessary, in addition to possible remote learning days.

“If we are looking at some sort of prolonged cold spell for instance where you’re going to see three or four days that we’re going to be below zero wind chill, then that would certainly be a consideration,” Smialek said.

“The reality is the state has given us quite a bit of flexibility as long as we filed a remote learning plan with them in August, we have some flexibility in terms of how we’re counting hours.”

Smialek said hours will not be in consideration this year in terms of calling snow days.

A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Education stated in part “…(HB 164) provides that schools that implement remote learning plans shall be considered to have complied with the minimum number of instructional hours required.”

Calamity hours still exist as an option for school districts to use as a part of House Bill 164.

A Strongsville City School District spokesperson said the district will continue to evaluate plans and the different way the district may handle snow days and weather-related calamity hours in the future.

A Cleveland Metropolitan School District spokesperson said the way snow days are handled is not expected to change and it’s a “non-issue in a remote learning environment.”

If the district is operating in a hybrid or in-person school plan, CMSD said it will continue to follow guidelines.

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