Transforming snow days is unfair

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    Snow 8212; this magical word doubles as a wonder of nature and as a day of freedom. As a kid, and even as a college student, when there is any mention of snow or ice, I hope that I will wake up to a winter wonderland and that school will be canceled.

    As much as I am fond of the occasional spontaneous day of freedom, I know that with virtually all things come consequences. For the Mississinawa Valley School District in Ohio, the idea of freedom on a snow day has transformed entirely.

    According to a Jan. 27 article in The Washington Post, the school district began a policy this year that gives students online work on the days when the weather makes it impossible for students to come to school. The new policy changes the traditional snow day into what the school district calls an “e-day.”

    The idea is that it prevents these missed days from stopping the learning process. Students do lessons online and do not miss out on what they would be learning in the classroom.

    According to a Nov. 22 article from NPR, the Ohio school district missed nine days in the 2009-2010 school year, which is six more than what Ohio allots for bad weather each school year.

    While this is a great idea in theory, I am not sure it will have great results in practice. I am not saying that I am a fan of extending the school year into summer. I just have little faith that students, especially younger ones, would actually do the work.

    Doing schoolwork is the last thing on kids’ minds when they see their world has been turned into a white paradise. They want to be outside having their own adventures.

    There is also the lingering question about how fair this online work is to the students without computer access. The district’s solution is that those students without computers have more time to complete the work, according to The Washington Post article.

    I agree, though, with Washington County, Va., School Board Member Tom Musick. According to an article on tricities.com, the school district missed 19 days in the 2009-2010 school year.

    Musick said he was unsure of how “e-days” would work in the Washington County School District. This uncertainty stems from the fact that many students in the district do not have access to a computer.

    In that case, I do not think it is fair to assign something that students do not have equal opportunity to accomplish.

    For college students, the idea of an “e-day” does not really affect anything. Many colleges offer online classes and many traditional courses have web components.

    Computer access is not an issue because many colleges like TCU offer free access to computers on campus. Unlike many primary and secondary schools, a majority of course work in college is done outside of class.

    For younger students, like the ones in the Mississinawa Valley School District, the idea of doing online work is a good theory but is one that lacks equal application.

    The school district needs to ensure that all students will have computer access and equal opportunity to complete the work. Until this is the case, transforming snow days into “e-days” is just plain unfair.

    Heather Noel is a junior news-editorial journalism and history double major from Fort Worth.