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COVID-19 has changed the definition of a snow day

School districts can avoid having to make-up snow days by allowing students to go online

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Some area school districts had a snow day on Wednesday while others were in-session. In other school districts, students stayed home and went to school online.

COVID-19 has forced school districts, nationwide, to construct an online presence.

And it has forever changed the definition of a snow day.

Wednesday was Parkway School District’s first snow day of the year. Students were not in school, or working virtually. It’s part of a plan to allow for three genuine snow days, which are built into the Parkway calendar. After three snow days, Parkway will switch to virtual days during inclement weather. That way, no time will have to be made up at the end of the school year.

“It’s always a bit controversial to start talking about make-up days. That extends the school year and you get into vacation times, or you take days away from spring break. Those are pretty difficult decisions and it causes poor attendance,” Superintendent Dr. Keith Marty said.

Pattonville School District also had a virtual learning day on Wednesday.

Superintendent Dr. Tim Pecoraro was asked what it is that allows superintendents the autonomy to make those decisions.

“The Missouri Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) does allow some alternative methods of instruction – AMI days – and school districts had to submit plans to DESE that had to be approved. Our plan was approved. So that gives you the opportunity to spell out what’s going to happen on those days if we choose to use them," Pecoraro said.

Reporter: "But is there accountability in that plan? Do DESE officials come back and check with school districts to make sure things are in order?"

“Yes, we work with an area supervisor,” said Pecoraro, “so they know exactly what we’re doing, and we have points throughout the year where they ask for additional information.”

In this new normal, the challenge for school district administrators becomes anticipating when the weather will make a virtual day necessary so they can instruct students and staff to make sure they have their electronic devices - iPad, Chromebooks and MacBooks - at home, with them.