“One of our first learnings was that the first snow day of the year should be the old-fashioned snow day,” he said. “So, we took that feedback and said, ‘Next year, when we get the first storm, it won’t be a blizzard bag day, it will be a good old-fashioned snow day.”
Frew’s district has always achieved at least 90 percent participation. Some “blizzard bag” days have had better attendance than regular school days, he said.
It’s unclear how many other districts have implemented similar policies. Kearsarge was among seven districts with policies approved by the state Department of Education last year. For this year, six districts applied for and received approval, said Marie Morgan, a consultant in the department’s school approval office. They are Barnstead, Chester Academy, Cornish, Nelson, Pinkerton Academy and Timberlane, said Morgan, who recently heard from a parent upset that his third-grader “couldn’t just enjoy a snow day as we did when we were that age.”
Some districts that have tried the concept in past years have discontinued it. In a letter to parents last fall, ConVal School District Superintendent Brendan Minnehan said it was difficult to keep the assignments relevant and timely. Internet access also was an obstacle, he wrote. While the assignments could be completed offline, families without a computer in the home or Internet access found them challenging. For others, providing equal access within a household was a problem.
“Even for those families with a computer and Internet access, the challenge of completing the workload with multiple children in the house needing computer access is daunting,” Minnehan said.