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Are snow days a thing of the past?

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Posted at 5:10 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 20:10:04-05

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — Katherine Kenwell Cich is a Williamsville central school parent advocating to keep traditional snow days.

“They need their normalcy. They need the fun. They need their activities. The fun is really important for mental health. It just is,” the mom said.

Despite now having the infrastructure in place for remote learning, some districts do continue to close school, including Williamsville.

A spokesman told 7 Eyewitness News it hasn't used any snow days this year. But, snow days do remain snow days.

West Seneca Central School District posted that to its Facebook page last week, saying school would be closed with no virtual learning in the event of inclement weather. Other non-city school district leaders said the death of the snow day remains premature. That’s primarily because there’s more to consider aside from bridging the digital divide.

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But, Niagara Falls City School District does plan to shift to remote learning instead of closing school for the day.

“February 26, 2020 may go down as the last official snow day in Niagara Falls,” School Superintendent Mark Laurrie said.

Laurrie said snow days could now be a thing of the past in his district, provided there is enough notice for students and teachers to have the necessary technology in place at home.

“Having the digital divide crossed, we certainly could eliminate snow days completely.”

Laurrie hasn’t begun negotiating the 2021-2022 school calendar with the Teacher’s Union. He said he will still build emergency closure days into the school year for things like power outages and cold weather. But, he intends to make the most out of every school day…

“The schedules have been so off kilter that we need to make every minute count,” Laurrie said.

The State Education Department is offering a one-year pilot program to allow school districts to shift to remote instruction for days that a district would have otherwise closed due to a snow emergency. That data is being collected and analyzed to better understand whether that might be a policy statewide moving forward.