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Snow Day Debate: Will traditional snow days be a thing of the past?

Posted at 6:33 AM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 09:17:21-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Kids all around West Michigan are getting settled into a new school year as we enjoy the start of fall, but soon enough we will enter our winter season.

A lot of discussion continues around what schools are planning to do for snow days or even just school cancellations in general.

Through the pandemic, virtual learning became the main way kids continued in to be in school, but now the question is will traditional snow days be something of the past?

School leaders at NexTech High School and Oakridge Public schools gave some insight on what they are planning.

"So I think the traditional world of a snow day, you know, where, hey, it's snowing out, we don't have anything to do, maybe going away," said Dan McMinn, NexTech High School leader.

Each school district across West Michigan has their own plan and lots of discussion around this topic.

Some schools have been set up for virtual learning for years, while others learned to adapt during the pandemic.

Snow days, or really any school cancellations, are a complex decision and typically its not an easy flip of the switch to virtual learning.

"It's not just a timeliness issue on preparation, it's also an equity issue: Are homes prepared with the devices with the wi-fi, are their homes equipped to have a conducive learning environment," said Tom Livezey, the Superindentent of Oakridge Public Schools.

Turning snow days into virtual learning days might be the way of the future but school leaders agree students still need quality learning, have access to the needed materials and make sure learning actually occurs.

Every family’s circumstances are different but at the end of the day, for many students being in school as much as possible is best.

"There are many kids who the safest and healthiest place for them to be is the school and we want to make sure we're open at every possible moment," Livezey said.

Many might consider snow days a right of passage as a kid, but school leaders understand just how important continued learning is.

Even though NexTech High School and Oakridge Public Schools have different school structures, they can agree students are wanting to be together and stay in school.

"But what we've noticed this year, kids are more excited to be back on campus, right? They want to be here so we know we're talking about snow days, but they really want to be in person as much as possible in front of teachers in front of their friends as much as they can," McMinn said.

Each district across West Michigan will make the best decision for their district with any type of school cancellation and it's simply just not an easy decision.

When the winter season is upon us, though, make sure you have the Fox 17 weather app downloaded for the latest forecast. Plus, you can sign up for our school closing push alerts on fox17online.com.