Fewer snow days for Prince William County students?

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Snow days could soon be a thing of the past in Prince William County.

The county’s public school system is considering a change that would reclassify many snow days as online learning days, with students learning from home with online material, according to several sources with knowledge of the change.

The change would require asynchronous learning on “Code Orange” days, when inclement weather hinders travel to school, although the “Code Red” designation with complete school closures would still be a possibility. Asynchronous learning generally means that teachers provide assignments that students can complete online, on their own schedule.

Although teachers will not deliver direct instruction, the days will count as instructional days that count toward the state’s minimum requirements.

In the 2022-23 school year, however, the division is expected to use snow days as full virtual instruction days, with live teaching.

Leadership of the Prince William Education Association – an organization of county teachers –  has been informed of the policy change, according to officials with understanding of the discussion.

The county school system’s communications staff said no plans have been finalized and that it would be premature to comment.

After the COVID-19 pandemic led to school closures last year, school divisions across the state –  including Prince William’s – made laptops available to all students, making the use of what would have been days off for learning much easier.

At the same time, state test scores and grades fell significantly over the past year, and the division is in the process of implementing a plan aimed at recouping some of the learning loss last year through increased tutoring and instruction.

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly gave school systems the ability to declare unscheduled remote learning days during severe weather or other emergency situations.

In October, public schools in both Fairfax and Arlington counties announced that the first five days of inclement weather would be traditional snow days, but after those the divisions would hold unscheduled virtual days.

If it decides to do so, Prince William would be the first division in Northern Virginia to announce an end to full snow days. New Superintendent LaTanya McDade, who began her role in July, moved from Chicago Public Schools, which rarely close because of snow.

A Prince William County Public Schools spokeswoman tells WTOP the school system hasn’t finalized its snow day plans yet but hopes to do so by the end of the week.

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