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No more snow days? Pikes Peak Region school districts talk new plans for bad weather days

E-learning could be the new snow day.
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 6:34 PM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Colorado Springs school districts are rethinking the traditional snow day. Schools have been faced with many hardships during the pandemic. Schools across the country were forced to transition learning to an online setting. Now as we inch closer to snowy months, some local schools say e-learning could be the new snow day.

After schools were forced to begin e-learning, many districts said it was a tough transition and a whole new ballgame. Now that most schools are through with their first few weeks of the fall semester, they’re discussing what’s next. For many Colorado schools that next step is a snow day plan.

Academy District 20 tells 11 News that now that their teams are comfortable with e-learning and the transitions have been smooth, they’re planning to eliminate snow days for older kids, for now. The new plan includes transitioning middle and high school students online if a school has to close because of the weather. Elementary school students in the district will still get the traditional snow day, for now.

“Everybody wants to know is the snow day as we know it a thing of the past? It could be. We really think that e-learning to transition this smoothly, that’s something we would like to move forward as we move past COVID," said Allison Cortez, chief communications officer at D-20. “It could look like next year, with or without COVID, we get a dump of snow and you know what everybody transitions to e-learning. So that’s definitely a possibility.”

The district says they’ve been thinking about this change for a few years now, but COVID gave them the perfect opportunity to test it out.

“When we can have people learning online during the snow day, then they don’t have to go those extra days in May and June which is really a nice benefit for our community,” said Cortez.

District 11, the city’s second-largest district, says they’ve thought about the same possibility. Right now they’re in the middle of the discussion to see if they should add the new idea to their winter plans.

“We’ve definitely seen a lot more increases in our snow days and diminishing time for instruction time over the past few years and it would be a strong consideration now that we know it’s possible,” said Devra Ashby, public information officer for District 11.

D-11 says in order for them to replace snow days with e-learning, they’d have to work out a few kinks, but it’s not off the table for them.

“We have to work out a few logistics. There are some educators that don’t have adequate access to the internet at their home. So, those are some things you know we would have to adjust for those types of considerations,” Ashby said.

She tells us that even with the few housekeeping items that would have to be put into place to make this work, all in all, it could potentially help D-11 in the end.

“It could shift our calendars so that we start later in the year because it’s very hot in some of our non-air-conditioned buildings and if we were to start later in the year it would alleviate some of that. So, it starts a whole new conversation and a whole new opportunity to look at public education very differently from what we’ve been used to in the past.” said Ashby.

As of now several other districts including districts 3, 38 and 60 are all considering the move to online during snow days.

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