Staff editorial: Flexible learning days–a welcome alternative to snow day cancellations


Alex Miranda

The google form requesting student attendance submissions for the flexible learning day.

For many students snow days are some of the most welcomed days of the year. They provide a much-needed source of temporary relaxation and serve as a worthy distraction from academic and extracurricular pressures. When the forecast seems reminiscent of a polar vortex, most students rely on snow day calculators and early morning news, anxiously awaiting a school day cancellation they desperately desire.

Now, all of this is at stake — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

So far this school year, District 99 has canceled a total of four school days as a result of both heavy snow and extreme negative temperatures. The district’s plan has previously been to reschedule these cancellations utilizing emergency days in the May calendar. This year, a different alternative has been considered to combat these school day cancellations.

On Feb. 6 a district-wide email was sent to DGS students and faculty introducing the concept of a “flexible learning day.” The email stated District 99 would be piloting an education initiative outside of the classroom over Presidents Day weekend. Flexible learning assignments were to be allocated to students by their teachers, either online or on paper, no later than Friday, Feb. 15 and due no earlier than Wednesday, Feb. 20.

The student body reaction to the flexible learning day announcement was greatly divided, to say the least. Some were fond of the idea, as they believed working from home to stay on schedule was a more beneficial option than being forced to finish delayed assignments at the end of the year. Others — and by others, we mean seniors — vocalized their opposition, as they are not required to make up emergency days at the end of the year and therefore view the flexible learning day as extra work.

After experiencing what a flexible learning day is truly like over Presidents Day weekend, we side with the former students’ beliefs.

While snow days do offer an opportunity to relax and unwind during the week, it’s not like most students can make plans with their friends or family in the middle of a snowstorm. School did get canceled for a reason. The weather is uncooperating and the roads are generally dangerous to drive on.

We also don’t see the harm in completing a few school assignments while snowed-in, especially if completing said assignments results in more time to enjoy the summer months.

It’s not like the district is asking students to complete much more than a typical night’s worth of homework, anyway — all that’s required of us is to check-in our attendance on a Google form.  For the flexible learning day pilot, DGS even gave us an extra night to complete the assigned work.

In their current form, flexible learning days are a more plausible alternative to extending the school year calendar. Students still get the satisfaction of staying home from school, while also completing the work necessary to stay on track with the curriculum schedule. It’s about time we find a solution to the snow day issue, especially considering the overwhelming number of school day cancellations we face as a result of our unpredictable Illinois weather.  

In future years, we hope most students will be as welcoming toward flexible learning days as they are toward snow days.