- The giant winter storm that battered much of the East Coast closed schools in multiple areas, including some that rarely experience snow days, Education Week reports.
- Schools have had to close for multiple reasons: poor road conditions, frigid temperatures that have caused heating issues at schools, and the need for cities to use school parking lots in order to allow for snow plow access on roads.
- However, when schools close, the effects are widespread — not only because of the educational issues, but because many parents must then coordinate childcare, and some students who depend on school as a food source have to go without.
The announcement of a “snow day” fills many students' (and some teachers') hearts with joy. However, grappling with that decision is a burden for most administrators. School leadership teams are often forced into their decision to close after consultations with local and state officials, and they make the decision based on the safety and welfare of students.
However, with the increased use of technology in schools, many districts are now including “e-learning days” in the schedule, allowing for students to continue learning from home despite the road and weather conditions. For instance, under an Ohio law that took effect in 2014, districts that use their maximum number of calamity days can supplement by using up to three "e-learning days" to meet state class-time requirements, thus avoiding having to tack extra days onto the end of the school year.
On e-learning days, students attend school remotely through school-issued computers. This concept is growing in popularity, and the day may come where e-days replace snow days. However, some educators still have concerns about how attendance and learning will be monitored. There are also concerns that all students may not have equal access to the learning, especially if power outages affect some areas. The issue of feeding students is not addressed by this, either. However, with the increasing weather calamities that have affected the nation in recent years, e-learning days may be a smart alternative to the traditional problems snow days cause.