Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has an interesting take on distance learning. “Maybe,” she said with a smile, “it’s the end of the snow day.”
The governor has a good point, and her logic is as unassailable in Virginia as it is in Rhode Island.
How many times have we seen multiple days of education wiped out, to either be made up later or not, by snow or rumors of snow?
With all the problems involved in molding young minds via the internet, the pandemic has shown that distance learning is possible. And if it can be done for most of a spring semester, then surely it can be done on a daily basis when the forecast calls for ice and snow.
In an average winter in our part of the world, it is inevitable that there will be days in which it isn’t safe for every student to get to every school. During the unforgettable winter of 2009-10, the days missed climb into double digits.
The Virginia Department of Education says students must have 180 days or 990 hours of instruction. It doesn’t say how many of those have to be done in person.
The demise of the snow day will be bad news for students who look forward to a day making snowmen or going to the mall. (Mall visits somehow seem less hazardous than trips to school.) And it will inconvenience some teachers and school systems, because somebody has to be on the other end of the transaction, doling out the knowledge.
Necessity has forced us into a sometimes clumsy dance with distance learning. It isn’t perfect — in the coronavirus world, nothing seems to be — and a lot depends on how inspired the kids are without a teacher looking over their shoulders. But we have learned that we can do it. If we can consider virtual classes for a semester or more, then there is little reason for education ever to be snowed out again.
The demise of snow days might not be good news for young minds, but it would be a welcome change for school districts where “cloudy with a chance of flurries” is reason enough to call off a day of education.
— Adapted from The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg