Snow Days for Remote Learners?

by Kerry Dougherty

Just when you thought this pandemic couldn’t get any zanier, there’s this: At least one school district in Virginia decided to give kids a snow day this week. Even though schools were already closed and not a single bus had to navigate icy roads.

Let’s back up. Remote learning has been such an unmitigated disaster that it’s hard to come up with a single positive aspect to it.

Wait. Here’s one: Virtual learning is unaffected by inclement weather, thereby relieving school officials of those early morning calls about school closures due to flooding. Or snow.

But if you thought that remote learning could go on no matter the weather, you were wrong. Turns out, Loudoun County Public Schools shut down virtual learning for two days this week due to heavy snowfall.


Virginia’s third-largest school system, located 25 miles west of Washington, has about 81,000 students, none of whom are actually attending school. On December 15 the school division went back to all-virtual due to a sharp spike in COVID cases. There were few cases in the schools, of course, but the community is experiencing an uptick.

On Tuesday afternoon, school officials surprised parents and students by declaring Wednesday a snow day due to a major snowstorm barreling toward the East Coast.

Loudoun school officials canceled classes on Thursday, too.

Yep, two days of instruction missed because of snow. Even though all of the kids and most of the teachers were safe in their homes.

Asked to explain the curious decision, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Lewis told WJLA that he was worried that the power would go out and kids wouldn’t be able to access the internet.

While it may seem that continuing with the school day through remote instruction is feasible, many other factors also have to be considered. For example, are public utilities affected by the weather, which may limit some students’ ability to participate? Since many staff chose to teach remotely from their classrooms, will road conditions disrupt their ability to provide instruction? Can LCPS support the needs of all students, including those who participate in meal services throughout the day? Due to these factors and others, we believe the best choice is to continue with our established processes for inclement weather.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

While Fairfax County did manage to conduct whatever passes for remote learning this week, school officials there have warned that they also intend to have snow days during the virtual school year.

Ever get the feeling that educators are just tired of doing their jobs?

This column was republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.