WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Snow days will be school days in the Mount Greylock Regional School District, at least through the middle of February.
On Monday, newly installed Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless told the School Committee that he has decided to use snow days for remote learning in the PreK-12 district until after the February vacation.
After the planned one-week break, the first two snow days will be treated as actual days off before going back to the remote "snow day" model. North Adams made the decision
to treat snow days as remote days earlier this month.
"In addition to that, any day that would traditionally be a two-hour delay type of day … those days as well will be treated as full remote learning days," McCandless said. "We will not be holding two-hour delays."
The logic for allowing a potential maximum of two actual snow days is that the scheduled last day of school -- barring cancellations -- is Wednesday, June 16. The two post-Feb. 19 snow days could be made up on June 17 and 18.
"We understand the ramifications of going into the next full week [with makeup days]," McCandless said. "We know families have vacation plans, students have work plans, in some cases summer camp is paid for. We don't want to move into the week beginning June 21.
"So we will treat the first two weather days after Feb. 19 as traditional snow days. Then any days after those two days are used, if they're used, we will be back to remote learning days."
McCandless said it was a balancing act for the administration in coming up with the plan.
On the one hand, it was trying to avoid pushing school late into June, as too frequently has been the case in years past, knowing that the warmer weather and looming vacation make for less than optimal learning conditions. On the other hand, McCandless said he realizes that snow days are a "gift from the skies" for kids in the dead of winter.
"This sort of allowed us to split the difference to some degree," he said.
School Committee member Carolyn Greene pointed out that the grand compromise is likely a one-year solution. The commonwealth has given school districts permission to treat snow days as remote learning days just for the 2020-21 academic year. Barring new direction from DESE, snow days in future years will have to be made up with actual time in school.
McCandless agreed and said the pre-February vacation plan is the result of three weeks of conversation between administrators and the district's teachers union.
Michelle Johnson voiced her concern that the move away from two-hour delays (the district had a half dozen in 2019-20) would put an undue burden on families.
"Parents of younger kids who require supervision, it would seem if you pile all the two-hour delays on top of snow days, in some years, that would seem like a lot," Johnson said. "To add that additional burden on top of parents is just a concern I have."
McCandless said the entire plan, including the move to remote on potential two-hour delay days, is subject to revision as the year progresses.
"I think we all probably have a number in our heads at which our trigger for, 'This is ridiculous,' kicks in," McCandless said. "We will be keeping a close eye on that."