After heavy rain falling throughout the day and temperatures quickly falling below freezing Monday night, several school districts in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia did not open for in-person learning on Tuesday.
Most took an old-fashioned snow day, with no instruction. But at least one district in the region took advantage of pandemic-era virtual learning skills to make it a learning day.
In Whitfield County, Georgia, Dalton Public Schools opted for digital learning because a lot of students are learning virtually and the district has the technology available.
"We have a learning management system and our teachers are already working through digital learning through those Canvas courses, so it's just easy for students and staff to move into digital learning for one day and then hopefully we'll be back tomorrow to in-person learning," said Pat Holloway, chief of staff of Dalton Public Schools.
Other districts closed schools for both in-person and virtual learning, such as Hamilton County Schools, using one of the instructional days set aside for inclement weather to give teachers and students a day off — making it a four-day Presidents Day weekend.
"This was a classic inclement weather decision for school closure," Hamilton County Schools communications officer Cody Patterson said in an email.
Joining Hamilton, surrounding counties including Bledsoe, Bradley, Grundy, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Rhea and Sequatchie, along with Cleveland City Schools, closed on Tuesday.
Bradley County Schools has remained open for in-person learning since August and went to virtual learning as a whole district for three days last semester, said Brittany Cannon, community and communications coordinator for the district.
But on Tuesday, the system chose to use one of the 10 weather days built into its calendar in order to follow state guidelines for using those days, foregoing virtual learning due to inconsistencies in internet access across the county.
"I also think it's important to note that we have several teachers that did not have internet access or had the ability to plan for that virtual learning, being a long weekend, and would have to have made special arrangements to go in, because internet access across our county is not available to all residents, so depending on where they live they might not have been able to do that virtual learning," Cannon said.
Across the region, temperatures remained below freezing all day Tuesday but should rise above freezing by Wednesday afternoon.
Contact Anika Chaturvedi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6592.