Online Classes: A Possible Solution for Future Snow Days

In the past week, Andover  sudents have trekked through bitter winds and heavy snowfall to make it to class. The now-passed “Bomb Cyclone” brought up the question of safety for not only boarders, but day students as well, who must commute to attend classes on campus. With more frequent use of technology in classrooms, some teachers and students are taking the initiative to find a solution to these problems.

Jennifer Elliott ’94, Dean of Students and Residential Life, said, “Inclement weather is nothing new — this is not a new issue that we’re suddenly now trying to manage. Perhaps a new potential is a way of conducting class if everyone is not there. I’ve been struck by some of my colleagues who have been exploring alternate ways to run class if not everyone is present.”

Lilia Cai-Hurteau, Department Chair for Chinese and Japanese, held a virtual class through an online conference-call function on Canvas.

Cai-Hurteau said, “At a boarding school, we don’t have snow days, so I do want to make sure kids are safe no matter what they do. But at the same time, how do we continue our instruction in a way that’s meaningful for them?”

Other teachers have been encouraged by the new technological possibilities to combat the risk of students missing class. These teachers are considering various options for the future.

Scott Hoenig, Instructor in Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science said, “I have not done [online classes] for one of my classes, but what I do have is availability of everything on campus — I certainly don’t mind if people do record the class and get pictures or whatever it is. I can envision setting something up so that if someone wasn’t in class, I would be on board with that — I just haven’t done it yet.”

Along with the benefits of continuing class even in the harshest weather, online classes can alleviate students’ fears of missing out on certain subjects. The addition of online classes into a curriculum may help the students who are not able to come to school on a particular day and remedy concerns about missing information. Day students, especially, feel that missing a day of school, particularly at Andover, really sets a student behind.

Shyan Koul ’19, a day student, said “I normally feel like I’m missing out when I can’t come to school, especially on the day that everyone was returning to campus. All my friends were seeing each other and I was all alone at home.”