Abolishing snow days not a 'quality education option'

Zoe Greszler • Updated Jan 10, 2019 at 1:23 PM

With Georgia moving to abolish its snow days since students can now make the time up at home, some may wonder if Ohio schools even could accomplish such a feat. 

With some area students taking “blizzard bags” home and having access to, and in some cases, taking home, school-issued laptops, it’s becoming easier to make up time lost from snow days, without making up the school days. Could that mean that, like Georgia, local schools could consider abolishing its snow days?

Currently area schools have five days allotted should inclimate winter weather get in the way. Interestingly, all of Ohio’s neighboring states set 10 days aside for the same cause. Local superintendents said they think they were put there for a reason and that reason still very much exists. 

But a few schools in other states, such as Georgia (where schools get 10 snow days per year), are trying a more modern approach: home or virtual school days that allow students to continue learning, even while they’re stuck at home.

Local superintendents were asked if that was something Huron County districts could consider.

Edison Local Schools Superintendent Tom Roth and Monroeville’s Ralph Moore agreed there would be issues given the state’s newer system of counting school hours instead of days, meaning the districts need to be more diligent in keeping count. Roth said school only needs to meet the bare minimum requirement of 1,001 hours for grades seven through 12 and 910 hours for the lower grades. Most though try to go above that, he said.

“We aren’t satisfied with that (bare minimum),” Roth said. “We value education and don’t want to do the bare minimum. We want to give our students a quality education, to give them the best we can. And when it comes to (issues) like the Chromebooks, we still have kids (who) live without internet access at their homes.”

Moore raised the question of what would happen to teachers’ work days. He said even if students are able to go without coming into class for the day, the teachers sign a contract for a set number of work days and salary. 

“Anytime you talk about shortening people’s number of work days, while at the same time paying the same wage, you’re going to have tremendous backlash from the general public,” Moore said. “Not to mention, our teachers have never asked for anything like that; they understand that.”

Those arguments given, Roth said that doesn’t mean it would be impossible for local schools — but doubts the benefit of such a system.

“Is it feasible? Yes. Is it a quality education option? That’s the question, and I don’t think it is,” he said.

“I think we still need the class time to give our kids the education that they deserve. You can’t get that with a blizzard bag or doing the work from home like that. It’s not going to be as effective.”

Moore agreed. In fact, two years ago Monroeville took steps to distance themselves from such an option after it realized students weren’t benefiting academically from the school-issued blizzard bags.

“Frankly, they didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish academically,” he said.

“It was a burden for our teachers and it was cumbersome for parents. And our students didn’t respond real well to them — they did the work, but it didn’t have the same benefit, that teacher-student relationships have. So we stopped using them two years ago. We don’t use blizzard bags at all anymore.”

For the Eagles, Moore said academic success is more important than convenience, as is safety. He said even if it means the school has to make up a day or two, if weather conditions are bad, they’re going to call the day off. That’s not an issue for the school as long as students are safe and learning to the best of their ability. 

“We’re always going to make that decision on the side of safety. If we don’t think the roads are safe for our students to travel and for our busses to be on the road, we’re always going to make those decisions. We’re never going to take the chance just because we’re over in days — we’re (not) going to go on a foggy day when we shouldn’t or on a snowy day when we shouldn’t. We’re always going to make that decision on the side of safety.”

Moore and Roth agreed that the community is used to the five-day policy and see no need to change it.

“We look to keep things the way they are,” Moore said.

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