YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — For the last three years, Pennsylvania has run a pilot cyber snow day program at a dozen schools across the state.
When classes are canceled, students are given assignments to complete from home. The work counts toward the schools required annual school days so students won’t have to make up the day at the end of the school year.
Carlisle, Central York, Dallastown, Red Lion, Southern York, and Lancaster Country Day School are among the districts participating this year, according to the state Education Department.
To participate, school districts had to submit a formal plan that included when teachers would post assignments and when students had to submit their work. A big component of the program is the use of technology, so schools who wanted to conduct the program digitally had to ensure students had access to a computer, laptop, or other smart devices like an iPad.
Dr. Josh DeSantis, director of the master of education program at York College, works with schools in the region to stay up-to-date on the latest education trends like cyber school days. He says he’s educating future teachers to work in the digital age.
“Schools are moving to a paradigm where everybody has devices all the time, and almost all learning is mediated through those devices,” said DeSantis.
DeSantis says many schools throughout York County have been providing students with laptops to do their work for the last few years. He noted that the cyber snow day program helps kids stay engaged for exams, like annual standardized tests, so they don’t fall behind.
“When a school loses one day or two days, even three or four days for some of our bigger snowstorms, they’re at a tremendous disadvantage,” said DeSantis.
He believes as more schools ditch textbooks for technology, cyber school days will become a regular practice.
The Education Department says the pilot program expires at the end of this school year. As for the program’s future, the department said it “remains engaged in discussions with lawmakers and stakeholders to provide schools with instructional options moving forward.”