WESTFIELD/WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- School districts in western Mass. are already planning for snow days, but this year's plan looks different than most.

With communities across western Mass. dealing with power outages this morning, many school districts decided to cancel classes, knowing students wouldn't be able to remote into classes. This latest development is making many districts already have to use a weather day in October.

But as Western Mass News found, some districts already have plans in place to help reduce the use of snow days this year.

With the weather in New England as unpredictable as ever, inclement weather days are bound to happen, which is why school districts plan for them every year. But with remote learning models now in place, the future of snow days is changing.

"We just got to talking about snow days because that’s around the corner, and what’s going to happen for snow days this year," said West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt.

Reichelt told Western Mass News, on Wednesday, he met with the superintendent of schools to discuss their plan for snow days.

"We have all the tools now at our disposal to keep students in their own homes with teachers in their own homes at the same time," he said. "Snow days now complete an extension of remote learning days instead of having to make it up at the end of the year."

And for schools in Westfield, a similar plan is in place. The superintendent said that this year the state has permitted all schools to use remote learning in place of snow days.

"They said it does make sense for us to be able to make a snow day into a remote learning day rather than have to cancel school for everyone. That is because the vast majority of school districts in Massachusetts are doing a hybrid learning model," said the superintendent of Westfield Public Schools, Stefan Czatorowski. "However, there will be exceptions, for example, when we have widespread power outages or a blizzard that would not be a remote learning day. The school would be canceled."

In cases like Thursday morning, where the outages weren't widespread in Westfield and West Springfield, students in either district who were unable to log into classes due to a power outage, and were marked as an excused absence.

"Previous years, we were able to do blizzard bag days or alternative learning days. But those were discontinued by the state last year," Czatorowski explained.

A fact making this an advantage of remote learning moving forward.

"We have the technology in place, and we’ve learned a lot of lessons about remote, so that we think in the winter, even in years going forward we have so much experience, it’ll be easily implemented," Reichelt added.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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