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Snow days no longer are likely as Mid-Michigan schools adopt virtual learning tools

Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 7:21 PM EST
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - Thanks to the technology that schools are using for virtual learning, at least one Mid-Michigan school district says there will be no more snow days.

Hemlock Public Schools has a plan for winter weather and students probably aren’t going to like it. That’s good news for Kelly Rathbun, who is a mother of three students in the district.

Snow days are hectic for her, but luckily there haven’t been any yet this winter. But when winter weather comes calling, Hemlock students will be required to attend classes virtually.

“We want our students to learn and grow and have all the opportunities regardless of what it’s like outside,” said Hemlock Superintendent Don Killingbeck.

The school district announced classes will be in session come snow or ice.

“In the future, when we have a snow day, I can imagine that students might sleep in a little bit and students might go sledding in the afternoon,” Killingbeck said. “But I also think the big difference for us will be that there will be some expectation of learning going on.”

That’s welcome news for parents like Rathbun.

“I don’t think that’s a bad idea. I think it’s good to keep it is good to keep the kids consistent, especially in our state,” she said. “We never really know what the weather is going to look like, and if we get too many days in a row the kids are off, they do miss out.”

Hemlock schools say this plan has been in development. But thanks to the technology and work flow developed because of COVID-19, they’re ready to start now.

“It definitely pushed the envelope and forced the issue,” Killingbeck said. “We might have those one or two traditional snow days a year. It just won’t be three, four, five, six or more snow days, and kids are not doing anything.”

The district has 1,200 students and each one has a Chromebook. As of Monday, kindergarten through eighth grade students are attending face-to-face instructions while high school students are learning virtually.

When the day comes where each student is back in the classroom and a snow day happens, Killingbeck said he expects students to attend online.

“It’s not ideal. I don’t think it’s the best way for kids to be schooled,” Rathbun said. “But I think the way that Hemlock has handled it is great so far. Ideally, it would be great to have our kids back to school all day, every day and let them have that fun snow day off.”

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