Some Districts Opt for Virtual Learning Instead of Snow Days

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Northern Virginia received a range of less than an inch up to eight inches of snow, according to WUSA9.

As a result, Loudoun County and Prince William County declared snow days. But Arlington Public Schools and Fairfax County said classes would still be held online. That means that for some students, snow days are another casualty of COVID-19 precautions.

“All Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) students will participate in virtual learning on Thursday, December 17,” the district’s website said on Thursday. “Students will have synchronous (teacher-led) instruction.”

Only on-campus activities were canceled, including field trips, after school programs, and adult-education classes.

In an announcement, the district said, “If conditions are warranted, we do anticipate that there will be “typical” snow days as we have had in past years. As with any inclement weather event, each one is very different than the other, and they can present unique challenges for our students, staff, and community.”

“Here are some (among others) of the potential options for snow days this season: All Schools and Central Offices Closed. No In-person or Virtual Learning. Virtual Learning for All Students, Division Operations are Open, School Building Workspaces are Not Available (Students will have synchronous (teacher-led) learning.) Virtual Learning for All Students, Division Operations are Open, School Building Workspaces are Not Available (Students will have asynchronous (independent) learning.)”

Reviews of the plan for Wednesday and Thursday were mixed among Fairfax parents.

As a parent, I do not believe that schools should keep virtual learning days on snow days. Our children are already losing so much of their childhood with this pandemic,” Kody Parkhurst told The Virginia Star.

The school system is contributing to this loss with virtual school and when they have the choice to make things better or worse, they are making things worse for teachers and students by taking away a piece of “normalcy” by not giving snow days,” Parkhurst said. “They spend an absurd amount of time in front of screens and a snow day would give their brains and eyes the rest they need and some fresh air to feel better and ready to get back to school.”

Gena Smolitsky said, “Virtual learning should absolutely continue. Many of the children are academically delayed already. The kids need all of the education they can get at this point.”

Smolitsky said, “I have a 2nd and 3rd grader. My kids were not upset by the decision. There was very little snow on the ground anyway!

“Although teachers are doing what they can, I do not think [students] are getting as much [class time] as they would if in school. They seem to have a lot of free time, such as Mondays, almost off, so no more time off is needed,” Linda Hawton said.

She told The Star that Mondays are reserved for students to finish assignments, but that no teacher interaction is required that day.

“Most have completed all work most Mondays,” she said.

Hawton said, “The last thing a parent wants, who is working remotely, is the kids complaining they can’t go outside. I feel they have a lot of free time, less school work. I understand this is something kids and teachers look forward to, but this year is not your average year.”

Her kids didn’t quite agree.

I have two middle school kids, they grumbled that other counties were off, but it wasn’t a huge disappointment and they still got time outside as they do every day,” she said.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected].

 

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