South Carolina's Pickens County, Anderson School District 5 and Kershaw County, along with two Spartanburg County districts, will abandon snow days in the coming school year in favor of having students complete assignments digitally on school-issued laptops, The Greenville News reports.
The effort is part of the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee's broader eLearning pilot, and while those days will count toward the state's requirement of 180 school days, three "inclement weather make-up days" will remain built into at least one of the districts' school calendars just in case.
Students in grades 3 and below who might not have school-issued devices will have paper make-up assignments sent home with them as an alternative to an eLearning day.
As technology and 1:1 device programs become more commonplace in schools nationwide, the snow day will increasingly become a fabled event of the past, with the youth of tomorrow unable to comprehend their parents' recounting of the excitement of waking up to see a fresh powdering of frozen precipitation on the ground. Of course, those days off bred groans later in the school year when students inevitably realized they had to make up those days either during their spring break or right before the summer break.
The snow day's full extinction isn't likely to come immediately, however. The logistics of e-learning days still have plenty of road bumps to work out, with questions of what to do for students whose homes suffer power outages or lack high-speed internet access in the first place, along with figuring out general best practices. And states won't likely be able to implement such days in widespread school year planning until 1:1 device programs are in place in all districts — though it's possible that success in early pilots like the one in South Carolina could see additional funding made available to support more school-issued devices.
And, of course, educators must bear in mind that some students — even those who do well in an online environment — may still need their support for these assignments.