Henrico, Hanover schools still planning for potential snow days during virtual learning

Henrico, Hanover schools still planning for potential snow days during virtual learning

HENRICO Co., Va. (WWBT) - While Wednesday’s wintry mix may not bring snow to the metro-Richmond area, school systems are already planning for winter weather despite many students learning online.

The big question – does this mean snow days are a thing of the past?

For Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS), those days of waking up to snow outside and no school may still happen, but certain conditions have to be met.

“I think folks reacted very positively to the idea that it might still be a thing,” said HCPS spokesman Andy Jenks. “That won’t get changed; that won’t get taken away, everything else might be different, but snow days might still be a thing.”

Last week, an email was sent to HCPS families and staff outlining plans for how the school system plans to tackle winter weather.

“Even though, in theory, everyone has a Chromebook, laptop, or iPad at home and teachers are teaching virtually, you’d think things would be able to continue under those circumstances even if it snows,” Jenks said.

However, Jenks said there are circumstances that could still result in the classic snow day.

“If it’s particularly heavy snow, or ice, power outages may occur,” he added. “If that damages internet connectivity throughout the county or even in spots across the county, that would impact our ability to conduct virtual learning.”

Bad weather may also impact employees driving to their schools to work from their classrooms for virtual learning, along with the thousands of students riding buses to school for the expansion of in-person learning in January.

“Once a school year, maybe twice a school year on a fresh winter morning, the idea of a snow day should still be something that our kids and our teachers look forward to,” Jenks added.

However, do not get your hopes up for the possibility of three or four snow days in a row, that may be a thing of the past.

“We think we can avoid that given the virtual learning setup,” Jenks said.

As for other school systems, a spokesman for Hanover County Public Schools said the short answer - they are handling snow days the same as in prior years.

“The 2020-2021 school calendar that was approved by the School Board on 12/10/19 includes multiple “banked” days and makeup days that are included to off-set time lost to snow days,” said Chris Whitley.

Hanover Schools has more than 10,000 students who attend in-person learning five days per week at 25 schools. There are also more than 6,000 students who attend school virtually through the Hanover County Online School five days per week.

Whitley said administrators will continue to review weather conditions as needed to make any further decisions about snow days, as in previous years.

A Richmond Public Schools spokeswoman said administrators are finalizing the process for how snow days will be handled in the virtual setting.

Messages to Chesterfield County Public Schools were not immediately returned.

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