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Why some school leaders think virtual learning should be used on snow days

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Posted at 5:54 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 17:54:50-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Like tradition, children and their families flocked to Richmond's snow-covered Forest Hill Park Monday to hang out at one of the city's most popular spots for sledding.

“It's the first snow of the year, so I’m actually pretty excited about that," said one sledder named William. “We've been racing and did a sled train, which is a bunch of people in a line."

William and his friends Thomas and Quan said the snowfall was a cause for celebration because it extended their winter break.

“I was kind of sad because we had to go back to school today, but now that it's snowing a ton, it’s just really exciting to be out of school," William said.

Destiny Gerou also spent Monday afternoon playing at Forest Hill Park.

“Snowmen love snow," she exclaimed as she created snow angels and snowmen.

Her parents Jessica and Nicholas Gerou recently moved to Central Virginia from Florida and said the sight of snow made their jaws drop.

“This is crazy," Jessica said. "She loves it, so we love it, too. It's definitely different than living near the beach."

Jessica mentioned the day off gave her extra peace of mind not having to immediately send Destiny back to school during a COVID-19 surge.

“At least now, she doesn't have to go right back into it from the holidays," she said.

Meanwhile, Richmond school board member Jonathan Young said the district should have utilized virtual schooling technology so children can continue learning even when it snows.

“This either in school or out of school approach is rather archaic, isn't it," he said.

Young explained that every teacher and instructor has access to a Chromebook.

“Now more than ever, it's really important that we make up for lost time," Young said. "We've got to do better as it relates to keeping our students in school. That relates to both the pandemic and some of the new policies that we're adopting."

In the future, Young said he envisions RPS taking advantage of remote capabilities to keep kids in class during weather events.

"The reality is that we invested, as we should have a long time ago, in our students and in our structures to provide for this connectivity," Young said. "Now, it's important that we use it."

However, Henrico and Hanover school leaders told CBS 6 those districts do not prefer virtual learning for snow days because power outages can create connectivity issues.

"While we will not rule this out as an option, it would only be considered under extreme circumstances, such as an unusually long closure," said Chris Whitley, a spokesperson for Hanover County Public Schools.

But if you leave the decision up to William, Quan, and Thomas, they'd take the rest of the week off to keep sledding down the hills.

“We just like to stick it down here," said Thomas. "It's nice and fun. Not the bad injuries like in professional sledding.”