MCPS School Board Approves Virtual Learning on Snow Days  

Effective immediately, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will consider transitioning to virtual learning on snow days.

Officials emphasized the decision does not get rid of snow days but allows for the option to move to virtual learning on those days.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight may use discretion in transitioning to synchronous virtual learning on days when school buildings are closed due to weather conditions, according to the resolution. The school board approved the resolution 7-1 during a meeting Tuesday.

“Snow days could still exist,” McKnight said. It depends on the circumstances. When MCPS had its first three snow days in January, “that third day, we could have been ready to go,” she said.

“It just creates an option for us should we get a snowmageddon or should we get additional days in which we know that we need to consider an alternative, so we don’t accrue more time to make up at the end of the year or throughout the year,” said Dana Edwards, MCPS Chief of Districtwide Services and Supports.

The state of Maryland requires 180 instructional days. MCPS has 181 days this academic year and has closed four days in January due to inclement weather. The school system needs to make-up three days, said Douglas Hollis, Jr., Executive Director of the MCPS Office of Finance and Operations. 

Hollis said MCPS will communicate more in coming weeks about how those days will be made-up.

Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Hana O’Looney voted in opposition. She expressed disappointment that staff and particularly students were not surveyed or consulted as stakeholders. 

“I would’ve personally appreciated a larger survey sent out to the entire community,” O’Looney said. 

“Students aren’t machines, and I know we all want to close the gaps and get back to learning and get back to where we were two years ago… but adding virtual instruction on what could have been an inclement weather day, I don’t think is going to minimize disruption in the way that we think,” she said. O’Looney said internet bandwidth varies for residents throughout the county.

In a survey for MCPS families, families could choose their preference for either a virtual instruction day or traditional snow day when inclement weather occurs. There were more than 26,000 responses, Edwards said. The race/ethnicity breakdown of the children of families who responded is as follows:

White: 11,478
Asian: 3,723
Hispanic/Latino: 3,225
Two or more races: 3,072
Black/African American: 3,071
American Indian or Alaskan Native: 74
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: 64

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