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Burnt out. That’s how many students at school this year are feeling. Transitioning back to in-person school has been challenging enough, and now that students have finally begun to feel normal again MCPS has decided to throw both students and teachers another curveball: the prospect of virtual school.
This isn’t due to a school closure from a new COVID-19 surge, but rather as a way to avoid school closure due to inclement weather. MCPS recently announced on their website that in the case of snow, schools may transition to virtual learning “on a case by case basis”.
There is still a large divide between those who prefer virtual school and those who prefer the in-person alternative, but most agree that a combination similar to the hybrid learning last spring is not ideal. Whichever side students are on, in-person learning can be stressful and students and teachers alike look forward to scheduled breaks and snow days.
Robbing students and teachers from these unscheduled breaks and forcing students to relive what some considered a bad experience will condition students to dread snow days, instead of promoting the current excitement. Instead of enjoying the nostalgic experience of waking up to a snow-covered ground and happily going back to bed, students log onto their computers for yet another day of instruction.
MCPS claims that having any more snow days will cause the need to shorten spring break to accommodate the 180 school day requirement. This may be the case, but considering MCPS’s past policies on adding school days onto the end of the year, it is evident that MCPS is able to make do without removing snow days.
In addition to the depressing emotions surrounding this decision by the county, there are holes in the logic of having students using technology during a winter storm. Often power outages go hand in hand with snow, and students across the county will struggle with accessibility to the proper education they deserve.
In the announcement about the prospect of virtual school during snow, MCPS mentioned that school would start two hours late on these days but failed to mention any other information about the daily schedule. This leaves one to wonder whether students would have all their classes.
Furthermore, assuming school would go from 9:45 am to 2:30 pm, classes would only be about 30 minutes, much shorter than the hour-long classes that were utilized last year. The longer classes were helpful for bridging the learning gap that’s inevitable with virtual learning. These short classes leave questions of whether a virtual school day during inclement weather would be worth it; would students learn anything worthwhile?
Overall, virtual learning on snow days seems like a lose-lose situation, for both students and teachers. No one gets a break from the monotonous, never-ending rhythm of school and no one gets to experience the magical feeling students have when they wake up, check their phone and blissfully fall back asleep without a care in the world.