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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Hundreds of schools were closed Thursday for the winter storm, but a few districts did opt for remote learning like Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Northwestern Local Schools and Orville City Schools near Wooster.

CMSD will be remote Friday as well.

Check the latest school closings here

“We’ve had a lot of disruptions of schedule, we’ve had a lot of calamity days already and so those days are stacking up quickly,” said CMSD CEO Eric Gordon.

He says whether the district goes remote or uses a snow day is situational. The advance warning of this storm allowed them to prepare staff, students and families for a switch to online learning.

“I don’t think snow days are completely gone. I do think, though, that we have to use these new tools to really behave in the most modern ways and for us, we were seeing hours banking up that was going to mean extending into summer.”

Like CMSD, St. Ignatius High School also went remote for Thursday and Friday. They told families on their website:

What are the expectations for students and our academic schedule? There has been much discussion about the need, validity or the proverbial death of the “snow day” with the existing technology capabilities. Our leadership team believes that just because we can does not always mean we ought to utilize those tools. Should the need to close school for a single day arise due to inclement weather, all classes will be canceled. If the weather forecast is predicting multiple days of severe inclement weather that would require campus to be closed for consecutive days, we will leverage Canvas, Zoom, and other tools to provide instruction to students. More details will be provided as needed.

Parma City Schools took a traditional snow day, but their superintendent, Dr. Charles Smialek said in a statement:

“We intentionally build additional hours into our school calendar to ensure that we are meeting state standards. Currently, we are still on pace to exceed our requirements. However, given this year’s especially challenging weather, we will soon engage our stakeholders in conversations about potential remote learning structures should we need to utilize this format.”  

“If you’re doing something where you’re going to remote instruction, you have to do it in a thoughtful way, make sure that the learning activities are actually meaningful, that kids have access to technology, that kids have the access they need at home in order to make that successful,” said Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro.

There’s also the question of the mental health benefits of having the day off. 

“Sometimes a snow day is really a welcome and needed break,” DiMauro said.

Gordon says their remote learning structure keeps mental health in mind, incorporating shorter classes and breaks in between.

“There’s still opportunity to get out and play in the snow, you know, those sorts of things. You’ve got your own free recess and free lunchtime, so it’s not that we’re asking kids to sit on Zoom from beginning to end but that we’re asking them to check in with their classes, have a meaningful interaction,” Gordon said.

Students who lose power at home or don’t have internet access will be given hard copies of make-up work when they return to the school buildings.