Following the announcement made by MCPS about virtual snow days, here are some benefits and drawbacks of e-learning.
Why we shouldn’t go virtual on snow days:
Everyone needs an unexpected break:
School can be very stressful for both teachers and students. Freshman Carissa Montier expresses that virtual snow days are not ideal “because students need spontaneous breaks from school in order to recuperate.” Snow days can be a time when teachers get caught up on grading, and students can either catch up on their work or play in the snow! Kids are highly encouraged to get out and play outside, but with zoom meetings, they are forced to look at a screen for several hours.
Teachers who have kids have to teach AND take care of their kid(s) at the same time:
Not only are teachers expected to host zoom meetings, but they now also have the responsibility of making sure their child’s needs are met. Having to balance both of these duties can be extremely difficult and can also add to the stress most teachers are already experiencing.
Some students are not guaranteed to have power/internet:
The power going out during a snowstorm is a very likely possibility. Students who are affected by the power outage will not be able to participate in the virtual meetings, which will lead to them falling slightly behind. “What if students don’t show up online? Do I then have to re-teach the same information the next time we’re in person?” asked history teacher, Mrs. Rowe.
Teachers’ instructional plans will be changed/affected:
Teachers run on a very neat and organized instructional schedule. Sudden adjustments to particular assignments could also lead to lessons not running as smoothly as expected. Although a regular snow day changes plans as well, teachers have the full day off to be able to revamp the lesson well. “As a teacher, the idea of suddenly having to shift to virtual instruction is ludicrous,” Mrs. Rowe states. “First, the intention to close schools often does not come until after 5 a.m. So that means as a teacher I would now have to get up and start planning for virtual instruction the same morning I am being asked to execute that instruction.”
Why we should go virtual on snow days:
Students won’t lose out on learning:
Instead of students staying at home doing nothing, they’re now able to continue their learning. Of course, it isn’t as ideal as learning on sight, but it is more constructive than effectively nothing. A lot of students do need practice and structure in their life. One parent elaborated, saying, “My hope is that when safety is a concern when it comes to weather, it’ll be easier for [MCPS schools] to switch to online classes instead of closing completely. That way, nobody falls behind, we keep things moving, and everyone stays on task.”
It keeps students and teachers out of bad weather:
Some schools will be reluctant to call a snow day, and can sometimes announce them far too late. When schools can fall back on online learning, it becomes much easier for schools to avoid the stumbling blocks with traveling and operating in bad weather.
It prevents having to make up days in the summer:
Since e-learning would be counted alongside regular school days, it means that there wouldn’t be any need to eat into summer break due to missed school days.