Snow day looks different for some Chatham students this year

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A light dusting of snow brought about the first snow day of 2021 on Thursday, but most Chatham students still went to school, albeit remotely.

In a world using many more remote learning tools and platforms this year than last winter, it seems traditional snow days could become be a thing of the past. Chatham County Schools announced on Wednesday night that Thursday would be a remote learning day for all students, citing forecast calling for accumulating snow and hazardous driving conditions. 

Currently, all K-8 CCS students have the option of going to in-person hybrid learning; high school students will remain completely virtual until they start Plan B on Monday. The district said it hoped to return to normal operations on Friday.

Students still found time to enjoy the snow — and even a few snowballs — before turning to their computers for remote learning. People who commented on the News + Record’s Facebook post asking Chatham families to share pictures from their snow day said they tried to enjoy the day before starting class time.

“Out early to enjoy the snow before it melts and they have Zoom meetings!” Kristin Straughn Elsenbeck said.

Another commenter posted a video of the snow falling at 3 a.m., “long before teaching remotely” on Thursday. Some people expressed disappointment with Zoom classes taking away time from enjoying the snow.

“Anyone else think its a shame to lose snow days for kids?” One poster asked. “They are taking the fun of snow days away...”

Another commenter agreed, adding, “Sadly by the time Zooms were over, the snow was gone, so no pics here.”

Willow Oak Montessori Charter School, located in northern Chatham, was also in fully remote instruction on Thursday.

Still, some schools opted to provide a more traditional snow day experience.

Chatham Charter, a public K-12 charter school located in Siler City, said that “out of an abundance of caution” and “strong desire for everyone to fully enjoy any beautiful snow,” the school would be closed to students and staff Thursday.

“Enjoy your free day with no live instruction or new assignments!” the school posted on its website.

In neighboring Wake County Schools, where students are receiving online-only instruction through at least mid-February, the district said Thursday would be an asynchronous learning day, meaning no live instruction would take place and teachers communicate assignments to students to do on their own time.

“Schools will take into consideration that winter weather and snow days are a time-honored celebration in our community and assign work accordingly,” the district said on its website in a Jan. 7 update. “While there will be requirements for work, families should expect to also have time to celebrate their own traditions.”

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools said all school buildings would be closed Thursday to students and staff.

“That’s right. Closed. It’s a snow day, so please unplug, get away from your computers and enjoy your time,” the district’s website says. “Please enjoy your time, stay safe and we’ll look forward to seeing you soon.”

Durham County Schools, which has virtual classes the rest of the year, and Orange County Schools both opted for remote learning days.

Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at hannah@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.

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