Virtual snow days have become an established part of the Montevideo School District policy.


Virtual snow days have become an established part of the Montevideo School District policy. Historically, snow days would be made up when school was not in session, such as Easter Monday or the Friday of President’s Day weekend. If more makeup days were needed, they were added at the end of the school year.

“Both of these methods were problematic,” said Luther Heller, superintendent of the Montevideo School District. “Many families and staff members had plans for the vacation, or non-school days, or the days immediately following the last day of school. By adding snow make-up days, those plans had to be changed. There were times when a change in plans required cancelling airline or hotel reservations, which came at a significant expense.”

Over a period of several years, district administration and staff worked on developing other methods to ensure learning could continue on those days to avoid taking away vacation days or adding more school days.

“In the 2016-2017 school year, the district implemented the first use of virtual snow days,” said Heller. “At that time, the days were not approved by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), but the district had enough instructional time built into the calendar that we could utilize up to three of these days and still meet the MDE attendance criteria.”

At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, feedback from parents, students, staff, and administration was extremely positive and, in 2017, the Minnesota legislature approved the e-learning days on a statewide basis, and allowed five of those days to be included in the instructional hours.

For the days to be counted by MDE, students are required to participate in online instruction, or accomodations must be made for those without internet connectivity or usable devices at home.

For more on this story and others pick up this week’s paper or subscribe today!