Chatham schools announce closures, remote learning on Friday in anticipation of winter weather

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PITTSBORO — In anticipation of inclement winter weather, Chatham's schools are opting for snow days or remote learning and workdays for students and staff on Friday, schools announced Thursday.

At the time of publication, Chatham County Schools, Chatham Charter, Woods Charter and Willow Oak Montessori had announced school closures. CCS and Chatham Charter said Friday would be a remote learning day for students and staff. (Willow Oak said on its website there would be no remote or asynchronous instruction.) Central Carolina Community College also announced that its campuses would close Friday and Saturday after operating on a normal schedule through Thursday evening.

In a world using more remote learning tools and platforms than in pre-pandemic winters, traditional snow days look a bit different.

“Anyone else think it's a shame to lose snow days for kids?” said one CCS parent said on a News + Record Facebook post announcing a snow day last January. “They are taking the fun of snow days away...”

CCS recently presented its plan for remote learning expectations in the event of inclement weather at a Dec. 13 board of education meeting.

CCS may offer remote learning options during inclement weather days for students, the district said, but teachers are not required to hold live Zooms, meaning work can be asynchronous. Due to the district’s 1:1 initiative, every student has been assigned an electronic device. Still, some students don’t have reliable access to internet. To account for that, students have five days after an inclement weather day to turn in work under the district's new policy.

The state allows for up to five remote learning days in the 2021-2022 school year calendar.

Most school systems across the Triangle have canceled in-person classes Friday due to the threat of black ice, slick roads and below-freezing temperatures. The Wake County school system, Johnston County Schools, Durham Public Schools and Franklin County Schools made Friday a snow day, the News & Observer reported, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system will make Friday a remote learning day. Neighboring Lee County Schools will also close tomorrow, the district announced Thursday morning.

Friday's school closure follows closures and delays earlier in the week, following the closure of schools on Monday to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

CCS was  closed for staff on Tuesday "out of an abundance of caution and due to very likely potential for unsafe road conditions," the district said in a release Monday afternoon. Tuesday was originally scheduled as an optional teacher workday, including Chatham Center for Innovation (CCI) staff; Wednesday is a required teacher workday for high school staff, including CCI, and required staff development for K-8 staff. Wednesday ended up operating on a delay for staff, too.

Chatham Charter was also closed Tuesday due to weather.

In addition to some of Chatham's schools, all Chatham County government offices will have a delayed opening on Friday, the county said in an email Thursday. Offices will open  at 10:00 a.m.

"The forecast for the remainder of Friday is still unclear," the release said. "The county will monitor the weather forecasts and notify staff and the public if there are changes to this plan.

"People are asked to please use caution on walkways at Chatham County facilities. Use main entrances to buildings, as those are the top clearing priority," the release continued. "Walk slowly and use the handrails. Do not move caution tape, cones, or other barriers to access entrances that may not be cleared."

This story will be updated as any further Chatham school/government cancellations or delays are announced.

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