La Salle Administration Explains How the School Will Navigate Snow Days After a Year of Digital Learning


Lukas Werner

Snow days are a time-honored tradition where students allow building igloos and sledding to take priority over schoolwork for the day.

Avery Marks, Assistant Editor

With temperatures starting to drop, leaves having fallen from trees, and Halloween costumes being packed up, many students are beginning to look forward to the possibility of snow, craving the sight of the snowflake on the weather app paired with below-freezing temperatures. And with these cold temperatures comes something else that students long for even more: snow days.

After having classes completely online for almost a year, La Salle, among many other schools, has proven its capability to use Zoom to conduct classes. In order to find out whether or not La Salle will take advantage of this in the case of snow days, The Falconer spoke to Mr. Devine to learn more about how the administration is handling snow days this year.

Are snow days a thing of the past?

On Monday, Dec. 12, members of La Salle’s administration team discussed this question while looking at the snow-filled forecast for that week, according to Mr. Brian Devine, who is the Vice Principal of Student Life at La Salle.

According to Mr. Devine, the Department of Education allows two snow days for schools each year. 

The La Salle administration will similarly allow two snow days for the school year.

What happens after the allotted two days have been used?

If weather restrictions keep students at home for more than two days, Mr. Devine said La Salle will likely resume digital learning days to avoid adding days to the end of the school year. 

Will the school return to Zoom classes?

Despite Zoom being an option that many students became familiar with over the past year and a half of the pandemic, the administration said that classes will not likely be held over Zoom in the case of a snow-related digital school day.

In the case that La Salle exceeds the two allotted snow days for the school year, La Salle will probably follow the same digital learning day protocol that they have in years past.

With the resource of iPads, La Salle teachers would post assignments. The previous snow day routine resembles what present-day Lasallians might call an asynchronous day. 

Instead of logging onto Zoom, students will complete assignments for the classes that they would have had if they were in school, checking Schoology for their work for the day.

How did La Salle decide to keep the previous snow day structure?

“I think we all recognize the joy of having a snow day,” Mr. Devine said.

Mr. Devine, among many other faculty members of La Salle, attended high school when snow days were announced over the radio. “I want to preserve that joy for students,” he said. 

But students aren’t the only ones who become excited as white flakes can be seen levitating outside of classroom windows. “Spoiler alert, the teachers are too,” Mr. Devine said. Faculty also benefit from snow days and many staff members at La Salle have families to share the wonder and fun with.

When was this snow day structure first implemented?

“It was probably about five years ago, when we had the big storm, and we were out of school for almost a week and a half,” Mr. Devine said. “And we realized that… we had the capability of digital learning days.”

Due to the regular use of iPads — particularly Schoology — in classrooms, La Salle was already ahead of other schools when it came to continuing school, snow or shine.

“We were the first school in Portland to announce that we were going to use days as digital learning days,” Mr. Devine said.

How is it decided that La Salle will have a snow day?

“There are a lot of texts that happen at five in the morning,” Mr. Devine said.

Currently, Mr. Devine and principal Ms. Alanna O’Brien are primarily responsible for making this call.

By looking through the window, it’s easy to see whether or not there is snow directly outside of your own home, but La Salle has students attending from all over the Portland Metro area.

Because of the spread-out student body, the administrative team takes into account how heavily different areas are being impacted by snow. 

A big determinant of whether or not La Salle declares a snow day is how Public Portland Schools (PPS) responds to the situation.

Even with guidance from PPS, La Salle recognizes that there are students attending from outside of PPS where schools are already closed.

“Even before PPS, if you know Oregon City is closed and Gladstone is closed and Clackamas is closed, then that is kind of helping our decision as well,” Mr. Devine said.

What if the internet is down for some students?

In the case of the internet being down, La Salle will respond the same way they did during the September wildfires in 2020, which also affected some students’ access to the internet.

“We have to respond to that on a case by case basis,” Mr. Devine said. “That’s one of the nice things of working in a smaller school, where teachers really know their students.”