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Snow days a thing of the past thanks to St. Cloud school's online class system

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Classes were cancelled in St. Cloud after 10 inches fell on Monday, but there was no snow day for students at one school.

Students at St. Cloud Cathedral High School were able to work from home after the school rolled out a new system that allows teachers and students to do lessons and work online from the comfort of their own homes.

The private school had planned to have a "practice run" on November 21 to test out the system, the Star Tribune reports, but when the snowstorm hit on Monday, the practice run was brought forward.

"It was sort of ready or not," principal Lynn Grewing told the newspaper. "But we were ready, and we got everything posted online pretty early."

The number of school days lost to the polar vortex last winter prompted a re-think among senior staff about finding a way that students didn't fall behind the next time extreme weather closed the school.

Students at the school already have Macbook laptops they can take home with them, WJON reports. Teachers then post lessons on the social network website Schoology for students by 10 a.m, including videos, assignments and quizzes.

As a result, Cathedral High School students were the only ones in town able to keep up with their work, not to mention schools in the surrounding areas of Albany, Sauk Rapids-Rice, and Sartell, which were also closed according to WCCO.

Grewing told WJON that the online classes minimize the impact of time lost from snow days, though added that it was no replacement for in-class teaching.

Winter decisions for schools

Schools across Minnesota were facing difficult decisions after the storm blanketed a large part of the state with snow Monday.

Although the snow was not as bad in the Twin Cities area as it was in other parts of the state, many after-school and extra-curricular activities were cancelled, according to FOX9.

St. Paul Schools wanted parents and students to have more certainty about school closures, and last week took the unusual step of setting out temperature thresholds that would prompt school closures.

It will mean schools will be closed automatically when there is a forecasted temperature of 25 degrees below zero or a wind chill forecast of 40 below zero.

Temperatures won't be getting that low this week, though it will still be cold enough, with daytime highs in the high teens predicted between now and the weekend, with lows in single digits.

Snow presents a different problem though, and like other school districts, officials in St. Paul said it would make decisions on snow days once it has observed conditions for school buses in the mornings.

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