Even on the days a school campus is closed, school could very well still be in session.
The pandemic highlighted the value of virtual learning – which many schools across the commonwealth have began turning to on days they may not have access to the school building.
Channel 6 spoke with school officials about how they decide how to operate and they say it’s always about safety and having virtual learning as an option on days campus is closed allows students and teachers to stay up to date without adding extra days at the end of the school year.
When a school is closed, whether its due to the weather or another issue the school day could very well still be going on thanks to virtual learning.
“Is it as good as in person learning? No, but I think it’s an important skill to learn right now moving forward, College, life, employment; were all going to do things online.”
Boyer says virtual learning also known as flexible instructional days were introduced by the state of Pennsylvania before the pandemic, but according to Dr. William Brotz, the Director of Education at the Ferndale Area School District, “I would say the first year of the pandemic we started that.”
So, when they have to close school for the day how do they go about it?
“First thing, it’s always about safety and usually we have a heads up on the weather, Well say ‘Look Wednesday looks bad, be ready for a virtual day because it looks like ice.’ If it looks like a snow day, we don’t mind calling a good old fashion snow day so our students can actually enjoy sled riding and build a snowman and those things too. I mean that’s important too for them to get outside and spend some family time.”
When weather is not a factor in closing the school and they have to close school for a flexible instructional day Brotz says, “well we have a procedure put together.”
In this procedure, Brotz and Boyer will communicate with other officials and give notification to the students, teachers and parents.
“And we send the technology home. Obviously, that’s an important component of the day.,”
Boyer and Brotz say all students already have iPads for their schoolwork and they even provide a hot spot for the students who do not have Wi-Fi access at home.
“Technology is key, technology that works is key, I think for the most part right now, you never get a majority, you’re never going to get out to everybody, but I think right now everybody would say what were doings ok, its working well.”
The school officials also say they use a two-hour delay bell schedule on virtual or flexible instructional days to give parents, teachers and students more time to get ready and organized for the day.