Winter storms test technology, ‘flexible learning days’ at school
Two blizzards within the past week caused the closing of schools in Springfield and southwestern Minnesota, canceling activities, causing problems for motorists, and giving highway and street maintenance crews a workout.
Springfield Public Schools made best use of electronic technology and declared three snow days — “flexible learning days” — that gave the local public school its first real test for digital learning. As residents in the school district dug out from the winter storms, the school district kept the academic calendar and student learning from being derailed by “snow days,” and used technology to turn the school closure into an opportunity for students to complete academic assignments on their own.
A “significant” winter storm which dumped nearly a foot of snow in southern Minnesota came on the second day of February, after a weekend of almost spring-like weather. Blizzard conditions moved across the Upper Midwest while thunderstorms that produced damaging winds and isolated tornados moved across the southeastern United States. Reports indicated that the Springfield area received from 4.5 to 10 inches of snow on Groundhog Day and early February 3. Snow began falling in Springfield around 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 2, and grew heavier with each increasing hour.
The Minnesota State Patrol advised no travel on Southern Minnesota highways the afternoon of February 2, and all state highways south of Highway 14 were closed at 2 p.m. and remained closed until early Wednesday. A blizzard warning remained in effect until 6 a.m. February 3, with wind gusts as high as 45 mph and whiteout conditions.
Between 10 a.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. Wednesday the Minnesota State Patrol said there were 449 crashes, 39 that involved injury. Troopers also responded to 475 reports of vehicles off the road.
When a road is closed, it is illegal to travel in that area. Motorists can be fined up to $1,000 and / or sentenced to 90 days in jail for violation. In addition, if travelers need to be rescued from a closed road, other expenses and penalties will apply.
Schools in Springfield and in the area closed Tuesday, February 2, in advance of the blizzard, and many schools remained closed on February 3, while other schools opened two hours late. The National Weather Service had issued blizzard warnings and watches for most of the southern portion of the state, and most schools heeded the forecast and announced school closings on the evening of February 1. The complete story can be found in this week's Advance-Press