As Power Outages Interrupt Remote Learning, School Officials Consider Future Options

Students in Holliston, Massachusetts, were among those learning from home who had no school Thursday after a series of storms knocked out power to many across New England

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Thursday was a day off from school and remote learning for students in Holliston, Massachusetts, after the storms that blew through Wednesday night knocked out power to more than a quarter of the town.

"No one could go onto their Zooms. Some teachers are fully remote, so I couldn't even, like, have two of my classes," said Holliston High School senior Elexa Reiss.

"We didn't think there'd be snow days anymore, since we have online learning, but I guess I forgot to think about the power outage situation," added parent Rachel Cohen.

Holliston was one of several districts across the state cancelling classes due to internet and power issues.

"When 25% of the students may not have had access, we had an equity issue, so it is a challenge that led us to have to take an inclement weather day," said Holliston Public Schools Superintendent Susan Kustka.

Those inclement weather days are traditionally thought of as snow days – something many districts had hoped to move away from with the infrastructure now in place for remote learning.

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"I didn't think I'd have to have this conversation this early in the year, and I actually had an inclement weather meeting scheduled for late October, because we had so much else to do with the reopening of schools, and here we are today, unexpectedly," Kustka said.

So will power outage days replace snow days now?

Kustka hopes this will instead be an opportunity for teachers and administrators to come up with creative ways to keep kids learning, even when Mother Nature has other plans.

"We still want to make sure there are activities for those students, so we would hope that maybe the teachers could do some follow-up, or maybe even tape the day that they did the instruction," Kustka said.

"It's Mother Nature," said Holliston parent Jacqui Villa. "We have to roll with the punches these days."

School districts are still awaiting guidance from the state on what percentage of students would have to be without power for remote learning days to not count, or whether supplemental learning packets or recorded lessons would suffice.

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