Snowpocalypse 2.0? Mass texting and DLD’s

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With the winter season fast approaching, Jesuit has been reviewing its preparedness for school cancellation in the event of inclement weather.

Meteorologists studying weather patterns have reported to The Oregonian that the Portland area could see up to five snowstorms this year. If these predictions are correct, Jesuit will be faced with the same number of snowstorms that took place during late 2016 and early 2017.

Last year’s winter storms brought serious challenges to the Jesuit community as it faced a multitude of school delays and cancellations. The administration worked to communicate information with students and upload assignments and other educational resources to Canvas during this time.

“I think Jesuit hadn’t confronted an issue like the snowstorm we saw last year, especially with the technology students rely on to complete and study their schoolwork,” junior Nick Pliska said. “Jesuit handled it the best they could with the circumstances they faced.”

At the beginning of November, Principal Mr. Paul Hogan sent an email to Jesuit parents and students regarding the notification process if school were to be canceled again in the coming months. In addition to the standard process of emailing parents and students, Mr. Hogan mentioned a mass texting system that will be used for the first time this year.

“The mass texting system is simply to reach as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” Mr. Hogan said. “We would use it very sparingly, particularly in the case of emergency, such as if there is a lock down or a gas leak, to get the word to all students, parents, and staff as to what’s going on and let them know that they shouldn’t come on campus. We will probably use it for snow days, especially the first snow day, just to test it and make sure it works, but it’s one efficient way to get to everyone at once.”

The school has the phone numbers of all Jesuit parents and students from registration forms, so the administration has the ability to implement the mass texting system whenever it is necessary.

“My phone is the first thing that I check when I wake up in the morning before my iPad, so I feel like [the mass texting system] is a good idea,” senior Nicole Goffena said.

During the massive snowstorm last winter, Jesuit also implemented Digital Learning Days to make up for all the school days students were missing. Students were not informed of this system until after the snowstorm began, and so Digital Learning Days were not utilized as well as they could have been if they had been introduced sooner.

“I know some people actually took [the Digital Learning Days] seriously, but many didn’t,” Goffena said. “It’s hard to monitor what students are doing [outside of class], but I feel like Digital Learning Days need to become more mandatory in some way, like having assignments due on Canvas the next day or having a certain timeline for students to follow.”

Mr. Hogan saw students and faculty rise to challenges presented by the snowstorms.

“While I have heard anecdotal accounts that some students did little work during the DLDs, our surveys of students, teachers and parents strongly suggest otherwise,” Mr. Hogan said. “Because the main run of DLDs came right before finals, students had to complete and turn in study guides and review packets to their teachers, usually for significant points.”

Digital Learning Days will continue to be used in the future, but may be introduced to the student body in a new way to improve their effectiveness.

“Some of the different Catholic schools in the area have actually practiced Digital Learning Days this year,” Mr. Hogan said. “Our feeling is we need to train our teachers and our students and just know that if we go over two snow days, we will enact the Digital Learning Days, hopefully one or two at the very most, so we don’t have to go to school during the summer.”