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The End of Snow Days? Technology May Spoil Childhood Tradition


Teachers appreciate the new system, students gripe.

Students at a West Virginia school stayed home today for winter weather, but they still had to report to class.

Bishop Donahue, a private Catholic school in Marshall County, cancelled school for the second day in a row for snow and frigid temperature, but instituted their first "Cyber Day" so students could still accomplish assignments without falling further behind for bad weather.

Bishop Donahue probably had a little more snow around it when they cancelled school Monday for the school's first-ever "Cyber Day." (Credit: Bishop Donahue)

Two BDHS students show off their iPads - the school was able to implement the "Cyber" snow day because each student is required to have an iPad and internet access in their homes. (Credit: Bishop Donahue).

Bishop Donahue is an "iPad school" according to Principal Tom Wise, meaning each student receives an iPad - funded through a tech fee parents or guardians pay all four years the students attend - and all students must have access to the Internet in their homes.

Mr. Wise told TheBlaze that the average turn in rate for assignments was about the same if they were assigned for overnight homework. "So, I'd call that a success," he said.

Today marks the tenth day  had to cancel school just this year, and he said the program will help curb any additional make-up days. The "Cyber Day" program is modeled off of other schools who have adopted similar programs; Wise said the Bishop Donahue superintendent borrowed the idea from his time with Kansas City schools.

Last night teachers gave Principal Wise positive feedback about their first "Cyber" classroom experience.

"The teachers worked back and forth with the students over e-mail and on average had five or six calls, but they said it was very effective," said Wise.

The BDHS Web site explains:

"On designated “Cyber Days”, B.D.H.S. staff members will email students their class assignment by 10:00 a.m.  Staff  members will be available to answer student questions, by email, from noon to 2:00 p.m.  Students should complete all assignments and return them to their teachers, via email, by 6:00 p.m.  To be counted as present for the day,  assignments must be emailed to our staff."

Bishop Donahue is in its 58th year, and just the second year with the iPad program. On the school's Facebook page, parents have commented with their support, and some students have griped.

"It's hard for them to appreciate it now, but when it's April and it's warm out and they don't have to be in school - that's when they'll appreciate it," he said.

With those words Principal Wise lives up to his name. "Though that doesn't happen all the time," he chuckled.

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