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"Digital Snow Day" has students taking classes when schools are closed

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Once again snow forced many school districts to cancel classes on Tuesday, but technology is changing snow days. 

For decades, snow days have meant sledding, ice skating, and snowball fights but Random Lake High School students spent the day on computers at home doing school work. 

Sharron Fikkert sends her kids to Brookfield Christian School. With a traditional snow day, they played outside and had a piano lesson. 

"I like the snow days. I don't need things just completely on routine, so I enjoy them. I like seeing the kids playing outside," Sharon said. 

Meanwhile, Spandana Peddagorla was doing schoolwork for 7th Grade U.S. Politics. 

"We have this online textbook that we had to use and we had to take notes on a video," said Peddagorla. 

Random Lake Superintendent Michael Trimberger is running the state's pilot program for digital snow days. 

"It looks a little different than the average school day but in a way, I said to our staff and our students, we're flipping the school. Learning is happening, but it's not happening at the school, it's happening at home," said Random Lake Superintendent Michael Trimberger. 

Trimberger says students spend from 3-5 hours on classes. The content varies by class. 

"Some of our staff, they tape themselves doing an instruction, and then students will log in and watch the video. Some will have assignments to read this, and then do some sort of writing project," Trimberger said. 

Some students like Peddagorla say it's easier to learn without classroom disruptions. Others, like her sister Sanju prefer the traditional snow day. "Because then we don't get more homework to do at home."

Random Lake virtual days will not have to be made up at the end of the year. The Department of Public Instruction is still taking in data and has not taken a public stance on the issue. 

Milwaukee Public Schools decided to cancel classes Tuesday morning and had parents scrambling. They sent a statement saying they try to decide on cancellations the night before but because of the changing nature of the storm, the decision was especially difficult. 

"It is never an easy decision to close school. While we want our students in school every day, their safety is our top priority.

We also understand that closing our nearly 160 schools has a major impact on our families, students, and staff. Whenever possible, we attempt to make these decisions the evening before a weather closing.

Due to the continually changing nature of this storm system, this decision was especially difficult. After consulting with stakeholders and our bus companies early this morning, we made the decision to close due to travel conditions in order to ensure the safety of our students, families, and staff."
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