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Snow causes a quick pivot for some schools

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net

While just an inch or two across much of the metro area, the early Wednesday snow drifted and caused enough slick roads that area school districts closed school buildings for the day. 

For many, that didn’t mean canceled classes, though, as they pivoted to virtual learning for all students, outside of most early education students. A new state law allows schools to use up to five virtual instruction days for inclement weather instead of adding days to the end of the school year. 

Blue Springs, Fort Osage, Grain Valley and Lee’s Summit school districts had all students, including ones who have done in-person learning all year or would have been in-person Wednesday on their hybrid schedule, learning virtually Wednesday. Independence Schools canceled all classes, and St. Michael the Archangel High School also closed its building for classes.

“We’ll make it up at the end of the year, just like a regular snow day,” Independence Superintendent Dale Herl said, adding that has been the district’s plan all along this year for snow days. 

“What we felt was the best and most beneficial thing, in-person is still the best way to have learning,” Herl said. 

Also, as opposed to last March, when schools had been monitoring the pandemic and knew they would have their hands forced at some point, logistically it would be difficult to ask students and teachers to pivot on a couple hours notice, Herl said. A few students might not have ready internet access.

As Independence Schools started a week or two earlier than many other districts in the metro area, he added, making up a day at the end won’t be a significant issue.

“Sometimes, a snow day, it’s a good break for students and staff,” Herl said. “Maybe I’m an old soul, but there’s something still a little magical about a snow day.”