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E-Learning on Snow Days Now an Option for Pennsylvania Schools

Snow days may soon be a thing of the past in Pennsylvania.

In the event of inclement weather and other unusual circumstances, the state's 501 school districts will now have the option to use "nontraditional educational delivery methods," such as cyber school, in order to keep kids learning.20snow-closed-school-weather-michigan-280px.jpg

"As we continue to advance through the 21st century, our education system is adapting to and actively using technology for the delivery of instruction and educational materials," Carolyn Dumaresq, the state's acting education secretary, said in a statement.

"The Flexible Instructional Days program offers schools the option to deliver instruction through the use of digital technology when students are prevented from physically being in the classroom."

Pennsylvania schools will be able to use up to five such days beginning this school year, so long as they receive prior approval from the state education department. That approval will be contingent upon districts showing satisfactory plans for reaching students with disabilities, those without Internet access or home computers, and those with other special circumstances.

Last winter's uncommonly snowy and chilly weather across much of the country helped prompt a reexamination of the "snow day" concept and the possibility of using online and e-learning opportunities to help keep schools running, as Education Week reported.

Public schools in Michigan and in Ohio, where a policy similar to the newly introduced pilot in Pennsylvania was in place last year, were featured.

The Keystone State's school code required schools to offer at least 180 days or 900 hours of instruction to students in grades 1-6, and 990 hours of instruction to students in grades 7-12.

Photo: A front end loader fills a trailer with snow to clear off a school bus lot in Kalamazoo, Mich. in early 2014.--Mark Bugnaski/Kalamazoo Gazette/AP

 Follow @BenjaminBHerold and @EdWeekEdTech for the latest news on ed-tech policies, practices, and trends. 

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