BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – As we prepare for winter weather, a lot of people are wondering if the move toward virtual learning this year will make snow days a thing of the past.
“We don’t want to take away that snow day but this does allow us to keep instruction at the forefront,” said Michael Moser, communications specialist for Botetourt County Public Schools.
In Botetourt County, the school board is thinking outside the box, recently approving a new weather-related code. Now, on top of regular snow days, code 3 and 4 remote days will allow for at-home learning because of inclement weather.
Teachers will prepare hard copies of work for students to pick up ahead of time. Some students with trouble accessing the internet are doing that already.
“Especially here in Botetourt County, we have a good number of our residents that don’t have either high-speed or reliable internet and we need to respect that,” Moser said.
In Radford, Superintendent Robert Graham said they’ll evaluate snow days on a case-by-case basis.
“We know that our children have missed a lot of school and certainly don’t want them to miss much more,” Graham said. “We’re going to treat it as a regular snow day. Now that may change considering the amount of snow that we get this year.”
Months of virtual and other remote learning give them more flexibility but the education isn’t his only concern.
“We can certainly make those virtual connections with our children but you can’t virtually feed a child,” Graham said.
Graham said they are considering making food deliveries to students who need it, as long as road conditions are safe.
In Roanoke County, any virtual learning day must provide the same services for special needs students and English language learners and provide the same access to meals. Because of that, a spokesperson said most winter weather events that close schools will still be days without instruction.