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'Virtual Snow Days' Keep Coyle-Cassidy Students Engaged At Home

TAUNTON (CBS) - Even during a snow day, school remains in session for students at Coyle and Cassidy in Taunton. The Catholic school has what's called "Virtual Snow Days."

Tuesday marks the sixth snow day this winter. The school had the fortunate foresight to pilot the program last year. It's based on the iPad, which all students started using last year.

"What you can guarantee is that if everything is loaded on a child's iPad, as long as it has power or is charged they can take it wherever with them," said Mary Pat Tranter, President of Coyle and Cassidy.

The program allows learning to be continuous and teachers don't have to worry about reviewing lessons from before the snow day or rushing to get lessons accomplished.

Tranter said it's a way to keep students engaged. "When you're out for multiple days whatever happened prior to leaving is often lost," she says.

The school uses two apps to communicate assignments and lessons to students. Some of the assignments are due the same day. Teachers are available online too.

Tranter said they are still fine tuning the program. She cited the example of when the blizzard closed school for three days and teachers assigned too much work and some students were doing schoolwork eight hours a day.

"We have to learn to effectively balance workload with play, sleep, shoveling, and family activities," said Tranter.

Senior Tim Sylvia said it keeps students on pace. He said he's OK with it as long as it's no too much work.

Beth Sylvia, Tim's mother, said the assignments take about two and half hours and Tim still has time to enjoy a "snow day." She said the program has also taught him accountability. Assignments not done can negatively affect a student's grade.

About 80% of the students comply with the "Virtual Snow Day" program said Tranter.

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