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Are snow days a thing of the past?

Did this digital school year cause snow days to become a thing of the past?
Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 6:34 PM EST
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SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Did this digital school year cause snow days to become a thing of the past?

“As a mom that loves to see how excited my kids get when we have a snow day, I would definitely say I would want it to be just a snow day. But that’s just my selfish personal opinion,” exclaimed Megan Ownby.

With three daughters learning in the classrooms of Sevier County Schools, Megan Ownby was glad the school system was allowing a snow day to be a day off for in-person and virtual learners.

“If we do have inclement weather and we have a snow day, we’re going to allow students to be home, to be safe and not worry about classes on those days,” said Tony Ogle

As the Director of Student Services for Sevier County Schools, Tony Ogle said about 80 percent of students were traditional learners this semester.

“Snow days in their very nature are often times unanticipated and so they may not have their Chromebook or they may not have the textbook they need and that’s just a whole headache we don’t want to add to a child or parent’s routine in the morning,” explained Ogle.

In Sevier County, each school day was an extra 30 minutes longer than required by the state. This allowed administrators to have 13 inclement weather days.

“I think a snow day is sort of a right of passage for young men and young women. I know that I looked forward to them when I was a kid,” laughed Ogle, “So I’m sure we’ve got a lot of young men and young ladies who are looking forward to snow days this year as well.”

“Kids, teachers and parents! I get excited when my kids have a snow day because I get my kids home for the day,” said Ownby.

For Ownby and her daughters, normalcy counted.

“These kids need some joy right now. They really do. And so do the teachers. And snow days--the kids love them, but the teachers love ‘em too,” said she.

While sometimes people may not feel impacted by a school closure, many school systems said they have to account for all roads in the county that could be impacted by snow, ice or flooding.

Here was what other counties were planning to do this year:

Knox County Schools

“A Knox County Schools spokesperson said “KCS builds 10 days into the school calendar in the event they are needed for inclement weather, illness or other emergencies. In order to give our teachers and schools more time to prepare for the return of students, KCS this year delayed the start of school for two weeks. We were able to maintain the remainder of the calendar by using the 10 stockpile days.

There are two in-service days that the district could use for inclement weather if needed. However, because KCS is now a 1-to-1 school district, we are encouraged by the opportunity to implement online learning to continue instruction and in hopes of not having to modify the school calendar.”

Maryville City Schools

“MCS will take traditional snow days as needed. We typically do not need more than a couple. If we have a significant storm requiring multiple days off, we will revisit our virtual learning options,” explained a MCS spokesperson.

Jefferson County Schools

“Since the current school calendar is approved by both the local school board and the Tennessee Department of Education with 10 stockpile days, we will still be treating snow days as ‘off’ days for teachers and students,” said Shane Johnston, Director of Schools for Jefferson County, “In the event all stockpile days are exhausted, any future inclement weather days would be subject to being treated as distance learning days.”

Cocke County Schools

Cocke County Schools will have a remote learning day on Tuesday, December 1 for all students due to the forecasted inclement weather, according to Casey Kelly, the Assistant Director of Schools.

Teachers and students were preparing on Monday for remote learning tomorrow.

He said the school system gets six inclement weather days a year so they must use them wisely.

“We’re going to try hard not to use those [six days] when feasible,” said Kelly.

He and other administrators recognize they get surprises each winter, so that is when they like to reserve the six inclement weather days.

Anderson County Schools

Staff and students have already had one inclement weather day this year. At that time students were off from school. As of now, that remains to be the protocol.

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