No More Snow Days?

 According to this article, a district in South Carolina is taking away snow days! The district is planning to convert snow days to "eLearning Days." Imagine this: waking up to the news saying that it is too risky to drive outside so we will tell the kids to learn on their own with a computer. In theory, that sounds like a great idea! To have students learn on the computer in some fashion sounds way better than making it up at the end of the school year when at least 20% of the students skip anyways for various reasons. I get it, from the government side, that it seems inefficient to run buses and school operations in June when a lot of students do not come to school. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEET THE NEEDS OF YOUR POPULATION! I know I do not live in South Carolina, but this does not make any sense to me at all. Heres why:

1) Daycare Issue
- As with all snow days, when a school has been canceled, the parents/guardians have to scramble in the morning to figure out where the kids will go. Some families and situations have to have the parent/guardian call in and not go to work to take care of their child. Yes, this is unfortunate but this is the norm in our modern times. Now, imagine you actually have someone you trust to take care of your child for the day while you go to work. They probably have their own child and maybe a couple others too. This one adult/person (could be a high school teenager?) is not only responsible for making sure they are safe, but now they have to make them do school work too. This may not seem horrible, but it does lead to my next problem...

2) Internet Access Issue
- NOT ALL FAMILIES HAVE INTERNET ACCESS AT HOME! To rely on others and communities such as libraries is not always convenient (for example unsafe to drive/walk...). My point is not all homes have access to the internet. Now imagine the scenario above (1 adult/teenager and about 4 to 6 kids ranging from 5 to 14 years old) and now expect them to do work on the computer/phone/tablet. That means you need capable technology for each kid to do their work (or to share). However, THIS IS ALL MOOT IF THEY DON'T HAVE INTERNET ACCESS AT HOME! I know in my community, more than half the students don't have internet access at home. Typically, only the parents have their smartphones that have access to the internet. Now they technically have internet access, but we are going to expect the adult to give their phone to the child and do grade level/differentiated work on a screen the size of their palm? That is too small of a screen regardless of your age to do important work that impacts your grades/work! This extends to my next concern...

3) Student Expectation Issue
- The teacher delivers the content to the students and the students have the opportunity to do it with internet access and on an appropriate screen. What if the student does not know how to do it without teacher guidance? What if the student cannot read it? What if there are technical issues? What if the student needs to ask a question because the assignment has a mistake and the teacher did not catch it? What if the student did all the work, but the work is wrong and you are not able to turn it in until the mistakes are fixed and no one in the house knows how to fix it? That is a lot of what ifs and I only thought about this for five minutes. In the modern age of education, students are on different levels and learn in different ways. That is not the issue, but it does become one when expecting them to have the content delivered to them differentiated, which leads to my last major concern...

4) Teacher Expectation Issue
- What is the teacher's role in this? Being a teacher, I HAVE MANNNNNY QUESTIONS about this if it was implemented at my school. Here are just a few that pop into my head:
A) Do the teachers work from home or have to go to school in the unsafe driving conditions?  If we work from home, does this count as part of our contract? How do we show proof of work?
B) What kind of assignments are we expected to assign to the students?
C) What if the child cannot have internet access at home? Are they exempt? Considered absent? Do they do get extra time to do it? (many questions in this department)
D) As we are expected to give the students digital assignments based on their level and the style they learn best (despite the state/district mandated testing doing the opposite)?
E) How can we deliver the content to the students if they are not supposed to need internet access (according to the article)?
F) How are teachers expected to monitor the student's progress when the assignments do not rely on the internet?
School Issue Question  G) Are the schools/districts going to supply the technology necessary for the students to do this type of work at home? (It says that the teachers will send their assignments to the students' computers. If they are, these Chromebooks  (see affiliate disclaimer here) are about 200 dollars. 200 x the number of students you have in a school. That is minimum of 50,000 dollars out of the budget to accommodate the students with serviceable Chromebooks.)

I only gave this section five minutes to think of potential concerns from the teacher side and I feel they are important enough for them to answer/fix if my district were going to do this.

In Conclusion
In theory, this sounds like a great idea! It really does! A schedule that does not change and we convert our snow days to snow day/eLearning day? To me, on the surface, it makes sense to do something like this if you live in a place that has many weather problems. BUT! Practically? With the way money is given to education/allocated from the federal or state governments, this does not work. If they are willing to give more money to the schools, then this could be possible because they can then spend money on technology the students can take home. But, even if they have technology given to them from school, is it expected of them to have internet access at home? What if they don't? Is the school going to buy it for them? Is the government going to subsidize the internet service or supplement it for the families to have it? To sum up, if this was going to be implemented, a lot of questions need answers/solved to ensure the access to education is equitable.

Thank you for reading my response to this article. Tell me what you think? You agree? Disagree? Share this to your friends and family and see what they feel about this! Thanks again!

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow. This is very interesting. I will have to do a little research this. I can't imagine how this will work out for students and teachers. Thanks for sharing.

    Jen :)