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New bill allows for virtual snow days for schools

(FILE)
(FILE)(Source: WHSV)
Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 11:56 AM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Virtual learning became the norm during the coronavirus pandemic, but schools are now getting back to having in-person learning. While many students may be excited to return to the classroom, virtual learning may not be gone.

Lawmakers passed a bill that would allow schools to use virtual learning instead of shutting down for a snow day. Albemarle County and Charlottesville plan to stick to the old fashioned day off.

“I think for us it’s always a matter of safety first,” Charlottesville City Schools Community Relations Specialist Beth Cheuk said. “We know that we have some teachers who need to come into the schools to use the Wi-Fi.”

“It’s likely that access to technology is also closed - that either electricity is out, or internet connections are not available. So in a county that is more than 700 square miles, there is a strong likelihood that parts of the county would be able to access virtual learning, but many areas wouldn’t,” Albemarle County Public Schools Strategic Communications Officer Phil Giaramita said.

Teachers have prepared for snow days in other ways, like giving out assignments beforehand. Albemarle County says it has enough time banked so that it can miss around 10 days without having to add more at the end of the school year. Charlottesville says past precedent will probably guide their future decisions.

“I don’t want to speak for our new superintendent, because we do have a new superintendent who will hopefully be coming on sometime this fall, but if we look to the past we preserve snow days to protect our staff members and also just because we know that our community really enjoys a snow day,” Cheuk said.

The bill prohibits any school from having more than 10 unscheduled remote learning days in one school year unless an extension is granted.

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