Scarice: There Will Be Snow Days!

Today’s “06880” Roundup — posted at noon — posed this question: Couldl Wednesday’s predicted heavy snow, strong winds and coastal flooding lead to a snow day? 

Or, in our new COVID world, will Westport school’s simply shift to all-distance learning?

I should have checked my email.

About 5 minutes earlier, Superintendent of Schools Tom Scarice anticipated — and answered — my question. He wrote:

I want to provide an update to the school community on snow days this school year. Of course, after a 60 degree day yesterday, we are looking at a significant snowstorm late Wednesday into Thursday.

On October 7, 2020, for the 2020-2021 school year only, the Connecticut State Board of Education approved the use of a remote learning day in lieu of a traditional snow day. Traditionally, snow days are required to be made up at the end of the school year. Remote learning days are not required to be made up at the end of the school year.

Westport youngsters enjoy a 2019 snow day at Winslow Park. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

In reviewing the parameters of our current school calendar, if there are more than 4 snow days this year, the district is required to use the April vacation as makeup days beginning on Monday April 12. I would like to avoid encroaching on the April vacation, and I would like to ensure with some certainty that the school year will conclude by June 23 at the latest.

Additionally, I may be a purist but I do believe that for most children, the experience of a snow day can be an unforgettable part of childhood and a unique opportunity for unstructured play.

For these reasons, the district will allow for only 3 traditional snow days that will be required to be made up in June. Any additional snow days beyond 3 will be remote learning days that will not be required to be made up in June.

There is 1 additional day built in that will serve as a buffer in the event power outages require a school cancellation.

Snow day! (Photo/Irene Penny)

Finally, and critically important for planning, we will not have “back to back” snow days in the event that snow clean up requires a second straight snow day.

If a second straight snow day is required, we will conduct a remote learning day on the second day. This might be the case this Friday if the forecast continues to project snowfall well into Thursday. Please plan accordingly.

It is likely that we will experience power outages. In the event of widespread power outages we will have to cancel school if the roads are not safe. However, we will conduct remote learning in the event of minimal outages.

Due to transportation issues, 2=hour delayed openings and early dismissals as a result of inclement weather will cancel either the AM or PM elementary session respectively.

For clarity, the approach to snow days can be summarized as follows:

  • No more than 3 snow days this year

  • Remote learning will be conducted beginning with the fourth snow day

  • An additional day has been built in beyond the 3 snow days to preserve April vacation and the end of the school year no later than June 23

  • There will be no back to back snow days for the purposes of snow clean-up on the streets

  • There will be power outages; however, if the outages are minimal, we will hold remote learning days after 3 snow days

  • A  2-hour delayed opening or an early dismissal will cancel the AM or PM elementary sessions

As circumstances emerge and evolve, we will make changes accordingly.

Our schools look very different this year. Thankfully — and thank you, Tom Scarice! — the sacred tradition of snow days remains.

Will Staples High School look like this on Thursday?

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