Growing up in western Pennsylvania—an area that is well acquainted with snowy weather—I have experienced my fair share of snow days, both as an educator and as a student. In 2013, winter weather rocked most of the United States, especially the east coast and warmer areas that were not able to combat the cold. Many schools exhausted their snow day allotment and were forced to add days to the end of the school year, cutting into summer vacation. Some schools in western Pennsylvania were still attending class in early July.
With advancements in online and blended learning, schools now have the opportunity to explore other options when situations like these arise. Most schools have adopted some type of online learning, whether it be with a third party company like Edgenuity, or a Blackboard page setup for individual classes. Some schools are even getting rid of excessive snow days with blended learning.
The financial benefits of adding a blended learning component are substantial. This option will undoubtedly save schools a great deal of money. For instance, when making up those extra days in the summer time, the school must pay for buses, maintenance staff, etc. Offering blended learning can help schools and districts save on basic utilities like heat, air conditioning, overall electricity, and other amenities.
During my student-teaching experience in 2010, a huge snow storm hit most of western Pennsylvania, creating an accumulation of more than 20 inches of snow. During this time, there was a week and a half period where schools in the area were closed as the city was not equipped to deal with a storm of this magnitude.
As educators, we know that time lapses in learning can affect progress, which is why we recommend educational supplements and activities during the summer time. It is inevitable that students will lose some learning with excessive snow days and teachers may need to backtrack through past content and information.
With blended learning, students can complete their coursework and stay in communication with their teachers. They are free to work on lessons at home at their own pace, but still have the teacher available via email or messaging for questions and additional help.
Weighing Your Options
Schools may continue to weigh their options on this matter; however, blended learning is present in many schools across the country and will only continue to grow. Brick-and-mortar schools, particularly those in colder climates, can use this option to benefit themselves in economical, educational, and logistical ways.