Is the Traditional “Snow Day” a Thing of the Past?

NORTHLAND — When it comes to winter storms, snow days are as old as schools themselves. However, with easy-access to e-learning, are traditional snow days a thing of the past?

The recent storm has turned the roads into a slip and slide, leading many northland schools — like Duluth and Superior — to close.

But, as we saw from the pandemic, virtual learning is possible and an option.

“While e-learning does have its positives, there are some challenges with it,” said Duluth Public Schools Communication Officer, Adelle Wellens.

Wellens went on to explain why the district chose not to hold school from home.

“There are a lot of students in our district that don’t have access to reliable high-speed internet that would allow them to log in.”

However, the Minnesota Department of Education says for schools like Barnum, Willow River or Hibbing who chose to hold e-learning days, they must make accommodations for students without access to the internet or other resources.

Access to internet, however, is not the only concern.

“What if you have no power?

At the height of this week’s storm, more than five thousand customers were without power across the northland.

“I live in two harbors and the power started going out at 3am this morning and its been on and off since.”

While the weather can affect the ability to connect in-person and remote..

“It’s perfect for making snow forts, making snowmen, and having the occasional snowball fight if that’s what you’re into.”

A recent study on outdoor play was done on the Duluth Public Preschool.

“And it found that outdoor play really helped with student learning.”

According to the MN Department of Educaiton, each year, schools are allowed up to three snow days and five e-learning days.

When asked why e-learning is still a suitable option, Wellens said, “they can continue doing their learning and doing their homework by being able to log into their device.”

The Willow River and Barnum Superintendent provided us with a written statement that reads in part, “using e-learning days instead of the traditional no school snow day was a decision made by our district last year and we are carrying it through into this year.”

To be counted as an e-learning day, the MN Department of Education says, teachers must engage in some form of instruction with their students.

Duluth has no plans to use virtual learning this school year.

Wellens says, if they run out of snow days, they will tack on more hours to their regular school days to make up for the lost time.

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