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Digital days instead of snow days? One Nevada school district says yes

With snow days on a lot of people's minds after the recent round of winter weather, FOX61 looked into an idea currently being spearheaded in one Nevada community.

The concept is called "digital days," and they have replaced snow days to make sure that students do not fall behind when the snow starts to fall down.

"All of our information is there, and they can tap into worksheets they need, activities we're doing, pictures of examples," said Sabrina Gentner, a middle school English teacher at Incline Middle School in Nevada.

When it comes to snow days, the kids in Gentner's school get their assignments and complete their work through an app called Teams. Teachers can post assignments for each of the day's subjects, and communicate with the students through a messaging tab. Just like a normal school day, the students have all of their regular subjects, even physical education, which can include outdoor activities like shoveling snow.

The students can not only communicate with their teachers but with other students as well.

"Way easier to respond online," said Gentner. "They will hop onto the conversational piece, maybe because they're familiar with it in their social media. But I get responses from most of my students."

Genter adds that it has helped the discussion continue once the students are back in the classroom.

"They're more apt to talk in class the next day," said Gentner.

Digital days offers students flexibility for students to complete their tasks however they choose. For some, it offers creative freedom but for others it is more of a struggle.

"For some students it is challenging... we've had students who've had to take as long as four to six hours to be able to get all the work done," said Sharon Kennedy, principal at Incline Middle School in Nevada. "So it isn't easy for everyone. But it at least gives equal access."

For students who do not have internet access or smart devices at home, they have two days to complete a paper assignment in order to get credit for attending school for those days.

The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents says it is an idea that has been considered, and it is being looked at not just to supplement for inclement weather but also for districts going over the state required 180 school days.

"Our team... developed a plan to assist superintendents who are considering alternative learning sessions and to foster a broader conversation with school leaders that will hopefully result in a clear guideline for school districts," said Charles Dumais, who spearheads the Technology Committee of CAPSS.

While it is not something that is looming in the immediate future for Connecticut, it could happen in years to come.

"This would be something that would take incredibly careful planning and collaboration," said Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of CAPSS. "Parents are not going to wake up tomorrow morning and now have digital learning at home, we will bringing them into the conversation.

On social media, this idea has sparked conversation from folks for and against the concept. To view comments from Connecticut residents, and weigh in on the discussion go to this Facebook post!

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