Reports of the demise of the snow day have been greatly exaggerated—in about 20 percent of schools.
Areas in western Maryland and southern central Pennsylvania were expected to bear the brunt of a nor’easter that arrived Wednesday morning in the nation’s capital and barreled northward along the I-95 corridor. Many areas in Pennsylvania and some in upstate New York expected two feet of snow to fall or more.
On top of the snow and potentially freezing rain, winds were forecast to be gusty, which could spell trouble for power lines.
A look at the expected timing and evolution of the precipitation for the upcoming winter storm on Wednesday-Thursday. Greatest uncertainties remain how far north into NY/New England the heavy snow gets & the location of the snow-ice-rain transition along the I-95 DC-NYC corridor. pic.twitter.com/s6CkgzWYRk
— NWS Eastern Region (@NWSEastern) December 15, 2020
This would, in any year of the past half-century, result in a near-automatic snow day.
Many schools that were using a hybrid or in-person model declared a snow day for Thursday. Even a few schools that were using a remote learning model said there would be no remote instruction Thursday.
In Maryland, though, school districts generally cancelled in-person instruction while encouraging students to work remotely during the storm.
FCPS MD Schools all Virtual Day of Instruction, Wednesday, December 16.
No in-person small group instruction.
Afterschool/evening activities are canceled.
See details: https://t.co/T9xCYj1H4a
— FCPS-MD (@FCPSMaryland) December 16, 2020
Howard County, situated between Baltimore and Washington, was already working on an all-remote model. Although the system cancelled meal service, athletics, and all community-sponsored programming in school buildings, which were closed, the virtual instruction continued as scheduled Wednesday.
Baltimore City Public Schools also announced the cancellation of in-person classes Wednesday but continued with virtual instruction.
The shift in Maryland toward virtual learning during inclement weather mirrors what is becoming a national trend. As of Thanksgiving, only about 1 in 5 school districts across the nation said they were keeping snow days; the pandemic had seen more than half that are located in an area where snow days are a possibility either cancelling the whole idea of a snow day or seriously considering the change.