St. Louis area schools brace for winter weather with snow days and virtual learning
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The sights and sounds of winter are inching closer by the hour, as school districts across the metro dust off their learning plans for when winter weather strikes.
“We start watching the weather three or four days in advance,” said Dan Gilman, Director of Transportation for the Mehlville School District. “On a situation like this, we’re going to go out in the morning and take a look at the roads, and then we’ll talk to the national weather service to see for anything updates and stuff like that for us.”
Yet, even if there are days this winter where the weather may keep campus closed, the decision to implement a snow day will vary across districts in the metro.
“One of two things will happen. Maybe it will be what’s considered more the traditional snow day where kids are off and they get that day to do kid things,” said Paul Ziegler. “Others may use what’s called their AMI, or their alternative method of instruction. That would then have students engage in a virtual environment and be able to count that as a school day towards their normal calendar.”
Ziegler is the Executive Director of Education Plus, a non-profit organization that collaborates with school districts in providing leadership and other resources. He said Missouri school districts get to use up to five AMI days throughout the school year.
“What happened during the pandemic is obviously we all utilized virtual instruction much differently, which has probably paved the way for school districts to consider it more as part of their inclement weather planning,” he said.
Multiple school districts in the region tell News 4 they will be planning to use their AMI days or virtual instruction days first when school must close due to inclement weather.
SCHOOL DISTRICTS THAT WOULD IMPLEMENT VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION FIRST
· ST. LOUIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“If we have to close our campuses due to snow, then we’ll switch to virtual learning where students log in through their Chromebooks from typically from 9 to 11 in the morning and meet with their teachers and get their assignments and get some learning done in the morning,” said Jessica Pupillo, Director of Communications with Mehlville School District. “We’ve received some really good feedback having done this last year, that families appreciate the learning in the morning, and then their afternoons are free to go out and play in the snow, to go sledding, to do all those fun, traditional snow day things.”
Other districts say they plan to implement a snow day first if bad weather strikes, while some may wait till the day of to make a decision between virtual learning or a snow day.
SCHOOL DISTRICTS THAT WOULD IMPLEMENT A SNOW DAY FIRST
· FORT ZUMWALT
· WEBSTER GROVES
SCHOOL DISTRICTS THAT DECIDE BETWEEN VIRTUAL AND SNOW DAYS THE DAY OF
Parkway school district tells News 4 after three of their snow days are used, they will switch to using virtual learning days.
“As a year goes on if we have a really bad set of inclement weather during the year, [schools are] going to really look at using those AMI days because just the same we hate when our school calendar takes us into June or mid-June to make up for days that we missed during the winter,” said Ziegler.
However, it is not just what route the school takes, as school transportation crews also must plan for the road ahead.
“These buses have external heaters on them, so they’re warming up an hour before the drivers leave,” said Gilman. “However, we do take into consideration the temperature at the bus stops, because we know that students are standing out there, and we take that into consideration depending on the other factors too.”
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