A teacher’s perspective on why snow days can’t be flipped to virtual days

Students in the D.C. area haven’t had much school this week due to a pair of winter storms that dropped several inches of snow on the region.

But with all the technology available to teachers and students, why can’t snow days simply become virtual days? Is it really necessary to cancel school altogether?

It’s a complicated question for educators such as Karen Kraus, a biology and chemistry teacher at Wheaton High School in Montgomery County, Maryland.

“The school system often doesn’t make a decision on whether to have a snow day until five in the morning or even later,” Kraus said.

Kraus told WTOP that she creates lesson plans, including in-person activities, several days or even weeks in advance.

“There’s a lot of group work and a lot of lab work,” Kraus said. “Trying to change an activity to a virtual experience can be a daunting task.”

Once a snow day hits, Kraus said she can’t simply flip a switch and come up with a virtual lesson plan that will be as effective as in-person learning. However, with all the snow days that have occurred this week, she admits she is having mixed feelings about it this time around.

Montgomery County Public Schools were closed Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

“Maybe a virtual day, even if it’s not your best lesson, might be better than continued interruptions,” Kraus said.

The latest snowstorm hit the region Thursday night into Friday morning.

“Most of us saw two to four inches, but the jackpot was back in northern Montgomery County,” StormTeam4 meteorologist Mike Stinneford said. “Over five inches of snow fell around the Damascus area and portions of Frederick County, Maryland.”

In Fairfax County, Virginia, 4.2 inches of snow was recorded just before 3 a.m. Friday. It ended up at more than five inches before 7 a.m.

Unlike the wet snow that fell during a much more severe storm Monday, Friday’s snow was fluffy and easier to move.

“When I walked out my door, my ice scraper was too slow so I used a broom to clean my whole car,” WTOP’s Neal Augenstein said.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up