Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


February 27, 2014

Snow way to plan


But it’s not a lose-lose situation. Building snow days into the academic calendar gives superintendents a bit of a cushion, not unlike a soft fall into a fluffy pile of new snow.

If winter turns out to be mild and school buses roll without interruption, everyone’s happy. The calendar banked on five stormy days. If they’re not needed, then school ends early and everyone gets a jump-start on summer.

Build in a contingency plan and celebrate if you don’t need it.

New Hampshire schools have another option — blizzard bags. It’s one districts ought to consider implementing. And officials in Massachusetts might do well to look north and consider adopting their own version of blizzard bag days, too.

Blizzard bag days are snow days with a twist. No one is physically in school, so travel risk is eliminated. Teachers and students can spend the day in their pajamas and no one will object.

But students are expected to do schoolwork. They are given assignments to complete when snow keeps them at home, most of it done online. Teachers are available through email and sometimes by phone to answer questions. Teachers must also do their homework in advance, preparing lessons and assignments for a snow day.

If 80 percent of the students in a school complete their work, the school doesn’t have to make up the day. It’s been an option for New Hampshire schools for about five years, but few take advantage of it. They should.

Winter will always mean snow and snow will always lead to cancellations. But school officials could plan better and take advantage of a program that makes sense for New England. Everyone will be grateful they did come June.

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