Seton-La Salle subs snow days with cyber days

Published Jan 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm (Updated Jan 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm)

For the more than 500 students at Seton-La Salle High School in Mt. Lebanon, the recent cold snap did not stop them from attending school. Although students at the Catholic school were not physically in the school building on Jan. 7 and 8, they were still required to attend class and do their work – all online.

Jan. 7 was the first “cyber day” at Seton-La Salle, and this year is the first year the school has done cyber days instead of traditional snow days.

“We’re trying not to lose instructional time,” said Lauren Martin, principal at Seton-La Salle.

On cyber days, teachers must post their assignments by 10 a.m. and students must log in by noon to be counted as present for the day. The students must complete their work by 5 p.m. the day it is assigned.

Seton-La Salle’s teachers also work from home on cyber days. Martin said students and teachers communicate online either through Google Chat or email.

All of the work is primarily done on the students’ Chromebooks, which are issued to students at the beginning of the school year and are included in their tuition.

“For the first time, it went pretty well,” Martin said. She said a survey was sent out to students for feedback on the cyber day.

“The majority of the ones who responded said they liked the day,” Martin said. “It’s not a day we will have to make up.”

Martin said the cyber days will continue this year, although the system is continually being tweaked.

Along with Seton-La Salle, Serra Catholic in McKeesport and Quigley Catholic in Baden also offer the cyber days instead of traditional snow days.

It is different for public schools, however.

Keystone Oaks School District spokesman Jim Cromie said although he loves the idea of cyber days, it wouldn’t work for the district at this time.

“We’re a public school and not every student has Internet access,” he said. Also, the district would have to either make sure students have a computer at home or issue one itself, which it does not do currently.

Cromie said making sure every student logs in and proving they log in would be a challenge.

“I do think it’s an awesome idea,” he said, adding it might be something that public schools do down the road if funding becomes available.

“We do not offer (a cyber option),” said Vicki Flotta, spokeswoman for the Bethel Park School District. One reason she stated was that every student would have to have a computer.

As for the Mt. Lebanon School District, spokeswoman Cissy Bowman said, “We have no plans at the moment to implement cyber days instead of snow days, since we make up the missed days at the end of the year. We are very fortunate that snow days are a rarity in our area. Since we are public school with 5,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, it is a very different situation.”

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