‘Virtual School Days’ Gaining Traction in New Jersey
With winter only a few months away, there is growing interest in allowing New Jersey school districts to replace snow days with "virtual school days."
The idea has recently gained traction thanks to last winter's abundant snow and ice storms that caused many school districts to exceed their snow days, resulting in an extension of the school year for many.
"When it comes to improving learning and making schools more assessable, we need to consider all options. Clearly anything we can do to keep the kids connected, especially if there's an extended snow break, is something we should consider," said Assemblyman Pat Diegnan (D-South Plainfield), chairman of the Assembly Education Committee.
He said having students attend school online when the weather is frightful makes sense.
"Rather than the kids sitting around watching cartoons all day long - they could still be doing their school work and being educated. It would be a home run for everybody involved," Diegnan said.
In June, state education officials determined Pascack Valley Regional High School District's decision to have student's log on for a "virtual school day" during a snow day on Feb. 13 was innovative, but it couldn't count as an official school day.
Education officials said it couldn’t count as one of the required 180 school days because districts must have their facilities available to meet the requirements of a true school day.
Diegnan admitted "virtual school days" could face issues, such as what to do if some kids don't have computers in their homes, but the idea is worth exploring.
"Creating commissions is always the way to kick something down the road - so if we can do it in a more expeditious way. let's try to do it. My experience has been it's best to try it and see how it works out, so I think it's something that clearly we should explore and pursue," Diegnan said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.