Some Kentucky school districts testing 'virtual learning' in lie - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Some Kentucky school districts testing 'virtual learning' in lieu of snow days

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In the middle of summer, local schools are talking about snow.

The reason is because Kentucky's testing an idea that may get rid of the infamous "snow day" -- an idea that would have thousands of kids learning from home when classes are canceled.

To kids, a snow day is almost like borrowing money from mom and dad.

"When there's no school, I mean, I feel happy," said Israel Sanchez, a student.

It sounds like a good idea -- until you have to pay it back.

"They're horrible because you have to go back to school," said student Samantha Beach.

But Kentucky is testing a new way to pay off the debt. Forty-four school districts have been given waivers to test virtual learning next school year. Shelby County is one of them.

"It's not something we are going to use for a snow day here or there," said John Leeper, the director of innovation for Shelby County Schools. "This is for those large weather events -- five, six, seven days."

These days are becoming more common. Shelby County had 20-plus snow days in the last two years -- and kids have to make them up at the end of the year.

"The hope is for students to continue to learn, but in reality, does that always happen and is it always effective?" asked Julie Broughton, a science teacher. "It's not."

Broughton says she can teach kids virtually while they're at their homes.

"As a science teacher, virtual labs are definitely an option for that," she said. "We won't have gaps on learning."

Virtual learning sounds fine at the high school, but the problem this county and all the other school districts are trying to figure out is how to make online learning work for everyone, down to the five-year-old, in kindergarten. And there's also the issue of connectivity. Not all students have devices or the Internet in their homes.

It's why JCPS says it didn't seek the waiver.

Some Kentucky Catholic schools and a handful of districts in Indiana tested virtual learning last year with success. Nonetheless, some Collins high school students still have some reservations.

"Like, you know how a teacher helps you in a classroom?" said Beach. "Who will help you when you're in online school?"

"Just computer work is not that bad," said Sanchez.

The school districts who got the waivers may be paving the way for the rest of the state...if they pass the test.

Click HERE to view a list of school districts taking part in the test.

"Getting that lesson done on that particular day...there's going to be a lot of flexibility that teacher will offer with this," said Leeper. "Again it's about the learning, more so than the time of the learning."

The school districts who got the waivers may be paving the way for the rest of the state -- if they pass the test.

Shelby, Nelson, Meade and Washington Counties are a few in our area to receive this virtual learning waiver.

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