ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County held a regular meeting Wednesday. One of the items on the agenda: the virtual instruction plan for inclement weather.

The Maryland State Department of Education opened up an option for local school systems to repurpose snow days as virtual school days. The Anne Arundel County Public Schools presented their application plan to the board, which would only apply to the 2021-2022 school year.

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This plan would not necessarily be implemented every time there’s inclement weather, however, would give the superintendent the option.

Students within the school system were given Chromebooks and mobile hot spots in 2020 after being sent home to learn virtually through the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those tools remain with the children in case of an outbreak in school and could be used in the same way for cases of inclement weather, according to AACPS.

“Schools going online last year made this an option and it’s a good option because kids are learning and we have the technology,” said county resident, Kate Taylor.

Despite having the resources, not everyone is on board with the idea.

“The school year should not be extended for inclement weather days, nor should children be forced to virtual learn on snow days – it’s too confusing and stressful for elementary age. Start taking away days in Spring Break,” parent Amanda Camhi of Pasadena said to the board.

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According to the school systems draft plan, approximately 10 students within the district needed their support to access virtual learning previously due to there being no cell towers in the community’s vicinity.

If a ‘Virtual Inclement Weather’ (VIW) day happens, the school system will offer to transport students to a nearby location where the children will be able to virtually learn. If weather conditions are too dangerous to transport the kids, students will connect through voice-only Google Meet using a phone.

If a snow day happens under this plan, students and families would be notified through principal newsletters, school announcements, Connect-Ed phone and text messages as well as social media posts on AACPS pages.

Attendance would be taken for all students and there would be opportunities for students to make up work missed during a snow day.

The school board voted unanimously to pass the agenda item, 6-0. Board member Michelle Corkadel left the meeting before this vote took place.

The plan will be submitted to the MSDE for final approval. If AACPS is approved, the school system would have the option to implement virtual learning on a given snow day when schools would regularly be forced to close for in-person learning.

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Cristina Mendez