Snow days are always going to be a fact of life in New Hampshire. But Granite State officials are experimenting with ways to keep kids learning even when they stay home. It’s an innovative attempt to address a problem that school systems throughout New England are facing this winter — how to cope with make-up days at the end of the academic year — though each district has to make its own decision whether a day of homework is really equivalent to a day in class.
At least seven New Hampshire districts have adopted so-called “blizzard bag days,” in which school is closed but students complete assignments from home. In the Kearsarge Regional School District, for example, younger students are given “blizzard bags” containing assignments at the beginning of the year that can fit anywhere in the curriculum. High schoolers are given adapted lessons that they can complete online. (Students without Internet access can make other arrangements.) If 80 percent of students complete their work, then the day counts as an official school day.
Kearsarge officials are enthusiastic. So are many students, who welcome the chance to avoid having make-up days cut into summer vacation. What’s less clear is whether the kids are learning enough to justify giving up days of classroom instruction. In theory, though, it’s good to seek ways to keep students working while the snow is falling, and other districts — including in Massachusetts — should be looking up north to check out this intriguing experiment.