Downtown Bangor during a snow storm in January. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Bangor students will not have snow days this school year, even when inclement weather makes it unsafe for them to travel to school.

Instead, they’ll learn at home those days, participating in remote lessons many are already participating in during a school year in which some students are splitting their time between school and home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bangor’s decision to cancel snow days, announced Tuesday in a message to parents, follows similar decisions made by schools across the country, including school districts in New York, Virginia and Michigan.

In Maine, schools in the Camden area dropped snow days well before the coronavirus pandemic and switched to remote learning on inclement weather days. The switch to remote learning eased the school district’s transition to remote learning in March, when schools shut their doors at the start of the pandemic.

A majority of Bangor students have returned to the city’s 10 schools in person five days a week this fall. The Bangor School Department is one of just a few in the state that is simultaneously offering two other learning arrangements: Students can choose to attend in person two days a week and online the rest, or they can learn exclusively online. Elsewhere in the Bangor area, most students attend school in person two days a week and learn from home the other three days.

There are five snow days built into Bangor’s school calendar, but Bangor parents have come to expect eight to 10 days off due to snow storms or harsh winter weather in a year.

“Faculty and staff are prepared to do remote learning days for all students on days we used to have to call snow days,” Superintendent Betsy Webb wrote to parents. “We are asking all families to prepare as well by having backup plans for when all students will do remote learning days.”

Bangor will send an alert either the day before or the morning when a remote learning day will be used because of inclement weather.

Teachers will email students the morning of the remote learning day with notifications of virtual meetings and learning activities.

The school department will also send lunch home with students the previous day if possible, or share information on where families can pick up meals.

Using snow days for remote learning will allow the schools to stay on track for the winter months, Webb said.