Winter is coming. And our overly-large school district is planning for the disruptions that even a little bit of snow can cause in the DC area.
As the PR department’s weekly newsletter reminds parents, the first five days that schools are closed for weather are written off as “snow days” and we just don’t worry about it. After that, things get complicated.
After those five days, we will hold virtual learning days, whenever possible, to maintain continuity of learning. Virtual learning on these days will be synchronous (live) instruction following the inclement weather virtual learning1 day schedule which includes a two-hour delay.
Except that administrators don’t seem to have learned any lessons from the almost two years of “virtual learning days” necessitated by the pandemic.
For one thing, they are telling parents that classes will happen as if everyone was present in the same place: “Virtual learning will be synchronous or live, teacher-led instruction.” When we know that process was a mediocre place-holder at best. But attendance will be taken, so I guess that’s normal.
Even worse, they ignore the fact that we still have a large number of families in the area with inadequate internet access at home. Or none. The $10 basic plan that many families bought into during the period when school buildings were closed is underpowered for many applications, especially if there are multiple people, possibly including adults, working from home.
Finally, there’s the fact that the district largely dismantled the infrastructure for online schooling built during the pandemic and pretty much abandoned any effort to develop the tools and skills necessary to conduct meaningful remote instruction.
Although the forecast is for lower snow totals than “normal” (whatever that means these days), schools will likely be closed more than five days for weather in the next few months. It will be interesting to see how everyone handles a return to virtual instruction.
The image at the top is a stock photo from an article about the problems schools had with Zoom at the start of pandemic schooling. Remember those simpler times?
1. I hate the phrases “virtual learning” or “online learning”. Learning is what someone does for themselves. Instruction or schooling is what teachers do, in the hopes, never guaranteed, that their students will learn something from it.