The snow day with all its rituals — first and foremost, perhaps, the setting aside of school work for sledding — looks to be a thing of the past in St. Paul Public Schools.
Bolstered by the district's experience with distance learning, including expectations that students will bring iPads home, the school board agreed this week to make up to five "E-Learning days" available for use in 2021-22.
Then, students could shift into distance learning mode on days when schools close because of inclement weather or building-specific emergencies such as water main breaks.
The district's hope is teachers will have recorded lessons or other plans at the ready. They would not be expected to teach live from home for an entire day, said Craig Anderson, the district's director of teaching and learning.
Minneapolis Public Schools announced a similar move earlier this school year.
St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard said the action does not preclude the state's second-largest district from going the snow day route. For example, he said, calling off classes might be the best option if a weather event were to occur the day after winter break, when students and staff are returning and perhaps launching into new coursework.
Discussion on the topic during the board meeting provided for some nostalgia.
Board Member Jessica Kopp recalled what it was like to look at school-closing notices scroll across the bottom of a TV screen, waiting for news on St. Paul, and seeing the station break away for a commercial and then start back up in the "A's" again.
"I won't totally miss that," she said.
Board Member Chauntyll Allen said as a parent she felt grown up when she had her kids do school work on a snow day.
Gothard was referenced by Board Member John Brodrick as the "Snow King of St. Paul," bringing to mind a 2018 snowstorm when Gothard kept kids in school, buses ran into the night and headlines were made.
While not speaking directly about that day, Gothard said weather forecasting has improved.
Anthony Lonetree • 612-673-4109