Snow means a play day for some Denver-area kids but remote learning for others

School districts spent much of the summer preparing for the possibility of a quick transition to remote learning in the event of a COVID-related school shutdown. But as snow arrived Sunday, laying a 4- to 6-inch blanket across the Denver metro area, several did not make a similar pivot for the weather.

Aurora Public Schools canceled classes Monday, despite moving all students to remote learning starting this week. The district is currently working with its teachers union to develop recommendations on how to handle snow days when in remote learning. Since those haven’t been solidified yet, said spokesman Corey Christiansen, schools are still operating under the existing snow day protocols.

Cherry Creek School District also canceled classes instead of moving its 44,000 in-person learners and their teachers to a remote format for one day, said spokeswoman Abbe Smith. And because those teachers are not working today, the district did not require its online school instructors to work, either. Students enrolled in virtual education may sign in and complete work asynchronously, Smith said.

To the contrary, Sheridan School District No. 2 saw no need to call a snow day since it moved all students to online education through Oct. 31. Spokesman Mark Stevens said teachers are well versed in the digital platforms and the ability to host virtual classes may do away with snow days in the future.

Late Sunday, Denver Public Schools announced it would have a 100% remote learning day Monday due to inclement weather instead of canceling classes outright. Spokeswoman Winna Maclaren said that’s in hopes of minimizing the learning time lost to pandemic-related disruptions.

“Last year, we had extended spring break, which caused two weeks of learning loss. This year, we started a week late,” Maclaren said. “We do have the infrastructure to switch from in-person to remote learning. (Students) have their Chromebooks and are connected to the internet.”

Still, there are variances within the district. Ashley Elementary, for example, decided to cancel classes and take a traditional snow day, saying in a note to families “the district made this decision without giving us adequate time to prepare for what inclement weather days will look like during a pandemic.”

Maclaren said students who do not sign in today because they left their devices at school or were not prepared to participate in remote learning will receive an excused absence.

Parent Kate Leos, who has a fourth grader and first grader at Ashley Elementary, was relieved to have a snow day. One kid has their Chromebook at home, but the other does not.

“As complicated as it is to have to work remotely with two kids having a snow day, it would have been complicated in a different way to manage trying to get one kid to do school while the other had a snow day,” she said.

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