No More Snow Days? Maine District Tests Controversial Policy

In Camden, Maine, the first snow day of the school year might be the last.

Starting in December, the MSAD 28 school district, which includes Camden and four surrounding towns, will try "remote school days" instead of giving the students a day off.

Teachers will assign work for students to do at home. Grades K-6 will complete non-technology-based projects, and grades 7-12 will be required to complete assignments online. If they turn in their work on time, it will count as a day of instruction. It will be a work day for teachers, too — they will have to be online and responding to students over email.

"It's really students we need to buy into this idea," said Superintendent Maria Libby in a video message to parents posted online. "There are a lot of benefits for students I hope they can appreciate and understand."

Libby said remote school days will cut down on make-up days that tend to extend the school year into the summer. She said it will also teach students valuable life skills.

"This will give them a taste of what their lives might be like where they may have a job in which they work remotely and work from home," said Libby. "They do need to display that discipline and independence."

The district will try remote school days twice this year and evaluate their effectiveness.

The concept is getting mixed reaction among students and parents in the district.

"I think it's great," said parent Meghan Brady. "I think it adds structure to an otherwise unstructured day."

She said it will be better for her kids to avoid make-up days at the end of the year.

"Summer in Maine is short. It would be great to have as much time as possible," she said.

Camden high school student Angus Carter is skeptical.

"People don't do their homework anyways, so they're not going to do it when they're not at school," he said. "I'll do the work because I don't want to get bad grades, but I'm going to be annoyed the whole time."

If students have issues connecting to the internet at home, the district is planning to provide a hot spot device so they can establish a better connection.

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