Denver Public Schools students may get the day off to play in the snow Monday, after Colorado’s largest district updated its snow day policy before a potentially record-setting storm rolls into the state.
The new policy, announced Wednesday, clarifies when students will have a day off and when they will be expected to participate in remote learning based on the severity and duration of a storm.
Snow days have been at risk of being flipped into learning days in Colorado since at-home, virtual schooling became ubiquitous during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first day Denver schools are closed due to inclement weather, both in-person and online classes will be canceled, according to the new policy. If a storm shutters buildings for more than one day, students and teachers will pivot to remote learning starting on the second day. Students and teachers will be notified by midday the day preceding a potential storm to remind them to prepare by taking home their devices, the policy says.
For the upcoming storm, that means if there are unsafe conditions Monday, students will have a traditional snow day. If hazardous conditions persist, they will tune into remote classes Tuesday.
DPS board member Tay Anderson said he advocated to change the district’s policy after a storm in February, when individual schools took different approaches to hosting classes. Some called for a delayed start while others opened on time, leading to parent confusion, he said.
“I believe in school autonomy, but I do believe in centralized decision-making for large decisions like this,” Anderson said. “When you have so many moving parts the district has to be uniform.”
School snow day policies vary widely since the pandemic forced districts to become more prepared to pivot at a moment’s notice and students to be better equipped and accustomed to connecting from home. Remote learning days in lieu of class cancelations have also become more common this year as a way to make up for lost instructional time.
“We will go to remote learning if necessary like we did last storm,” said Stephen Saunders, spokesperson for Westminster Public Schools. “It seemed to work well last storm and we plan to go remote during snowstorms for the foreseeable future.”
Anderson said he will continue to push for keeping snow days intact and allowing kids and school staff to have impromptu days off.
“Right now, and especially post-COVID, our students need to have, and our educators need to be able to have, those mental health breaks,” he said.
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