Frontier, Union 38 districts discuss policy on snow days amid hybrid education

  • Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/13/2020 7:47:24 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The Frontier and Union 38 regional school districts are beginning to discuss how snow days might be handled in the hybrid learning model.

“It seems like a small thing, but it’s actually a big thing and it does affect the lives of our community quite a bit,” said Superintendent Darius Modestow at a recent Frontier School Committee meeting.

Modestow explained to the committee that the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) did not release particular guidance on the subject of snow days, but advised that for this year, snow days could be replaced by remote education days.

“There is the concern that with snow days and such, the people — teachers or students — may not have internet, or internet that goes down in every storm, or electricity,” Modestow said, in addressing some of the challenges with going remote on snow days.

A way to combat that would be by using “blizzard bags,” Modestow said, referring to educational materials that are distributed to students for them to complete at home.

“If we know a storm is coming, we can prep,” he said. “It’s one of those Monday storms that’s going to be a problem.”

He also noted the inability to have a two-hour delay with the hybrid model, noting that last year there were more delays in the district than there were snow days.

School Committee members seemed to favor a sort of hybrid approach of using remote education on days that might otherwise be a two-hour delay, and canceling school entirely for larger snowstorms that might make it difficult for students and teachers to participate because of problems with internet or electricity.

In addition to the technical challenges of either scenario, committee members were hesitant to take away snow days from students in an already difficult year.

“If it’s a blizzard out there, and there’s a chance a 15- and a 17-year-old are going to go out sledding, let them do that,” said School Committee member Olivia Leone.

All members of the Frontier School Committee agreed, ultimately, that both their district and the Union 38 Regional School District need to make a unified decision.

“I think no matter what directions we go,” said committee member Damion Fosnot, “I think it should be a district-wide decision, if that means having a joint meeting to get everyone else on board.”


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