SASD families respond to snow day survey

Earlier this year, the Sparta Area School District (SASD) decided to implement virtual learning on inclement weather days. On February 4, the district had its first Virtual Inclement Weather Day as a trial run with the intention to determine if virtual learning on snow days would be beneficial as a regular practice. 
On Feb. 5, district administration decided to conduct a follow up survey with families to determine whether or not the Virtual Inclement Weather Days were something that they wanted the district to continue. 
In a statement written to district families, Superintendent Dr. Amy Van Deuren explained that on days that would be considered snow days/inclement weather days, buildings would be closed to students and they would be expected to participate in classes virtually.
Van Deuren also wrote that virtual learning on inclement weather days can ensure students stay on track with learning as well as maintain the district’s end-of-year summer vacation schedule.
“We know that there are advantages and disadvantages to both options,” she said. “Keeping snow days/inclement weather days as a traditional “day off” has the benefit of offering a day of reprieve and the traditional fun a snow day brings.”
In the survey, district administration suggested three options for staff and families to choose from on how to move forward with inclement weather days. 
Option one included traditional inclement weather days with the highest level of probability for adding days to the end of the school year. Students would have the day off and would not have to participate in virtual learning.
Option two included virtual learning on inclement weather days where learning would occur regardless of the weather conditions. With this option is the highest level of certainty regarding the scheduled school year end date.
Option three allowed for the first two inclement weather days as traditional days off and any additional inclement weather days would be virtual learning days. This option provided a balance of the first two options and a moderate to high level of certainty regarding the school year end date.
Parents, students and staff were asked to complete the survey by Thursday, February 11 and the results were posted earlier this week. 
The district received a total of 1,084 responses to the survey including 603 parent responses, 243 employee responses, 68 parent/employee responses and 172 student responses.
A little over 19 percent of parents who took the survey opted for a traditional snow day, while 31 percent said they would prefer a virtual learning day and just over 49 percent requested two traditional days then virtual days. 
Seven percent of employees said they would prefer traditional snow days; 41.7 percent felt virtual days would be better and 51.2 percent preferred option three. 
About four percent of parents employed by the district who took the survey said they preferred traditional snow days; 43.1 percent preferred option two and 52.8 percent preferred option three.  
Of the 172 students who took the survey, 33.1 percent of them preferred option one, 22.1 percent of them preferred option two and 44.8 percent of them preferred option three. 
For this year only, the district will continue its Virtual Inclement Weather Days, however, those families who would prefer to have their children take a traditional “snow day” are encouraged to do so and will be able to do so without penalty or “makeup work.”  
“We will continue to assess how these days work and will look at implementing a combination of traditional and virtual learning for inclement weather days next year so that we can control our calendar and leave open the option of a traditional snow day,” Van Deuren said.  
Administrators and staff will communicate information about inclement weather days and weather delays/early dismissals in all of the same ways they have in previous years, including Skylert notifications, through the district’s website at, through news/radio stations and the district’s Facebook page.

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