ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — With most students in full-on virtual learning mode, Howard County Public Schools on Thursday said they are all but doing away with snow days for the remainder of the 2020-2021 academic year.
Officials say the move was made for a couple reasons.
One -- it allows the school system to make quicker decisions in cases of inclement weather so families can easily adjust.
Second -- because Maryland's Department of Education approved virtual learning to be part of the required 180 educational days per school year, those snow days wouldn't have to made up before summer vacation begins.
In prior years, snow days and start time delays have resulted in scheduling challenges and instructional disruption for students, staff and families, making it unpredictable as to when the school year would end.
Going forward the rest of the school calendar, there will be four different codes the county uses.
Virtual for all students - buildings open to staff
No morning meal service - Lunch Available for pickup
Athletics: As scheduled
Virtual Instruction for all - Buildings Closed
No instruction - Buildings Closed
Meal Service: Canceled
This option mirrors a typical inclement weather day when schools and offices are closed. This decision may be implemented at times of widespread internet or power outages when virtual instruction is not feasible. These days would potentially need to be made up at the end of the school year.
Early Dismissal for all
Meal Service: May end early
Buildings: Closed early for all
This option would be implemented when an unexpected weather event occurs while students may be in school buildings (small groups, hybrid, etc.). During an early closing, instruction would end early (90-minutes or 3-hours) for all students, including those learning virtually.
On inclement weather days with virtual instruction, students will be expected to log in to each of their classes and attendance will be recorded. Instruction will be synchronous on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and asynchronous on Wednesday.