The Future of Snow Days
The feeling of waking up on a snow day is blissful and exciting. Most students across the country, or at least the parts of the country that receive snow, are ecstatic about the day off. Kids in elementary school ask their parents to take them sledding with their best friends, and high schoolers sleep in for as long as they can. During the winter, snow days are a true part of school culture.
With online school, a question arises about the future of snow days: will snow days even exist in the future? The only events that could prevent online school from occurring would be a large power outage or a glitch or crash on Zoom, but not necessarily snow on the roads. Furthermore, even when we return to in-person school, what’s stopping a usual “snow day” from just becoming an “online school day” instead?
When students were asked about the lack of school cancellations due to snow this year, senior Gordie Hill stated, “It doesn’t really make sense to have [snow days] when we’re online and already have Wednesdays off so I understood MCPS’s decision”. Contrarily, senior Jessica Robinson stated, “snow days are good for students' mental health and MCPS should recognize this”. Specifically, after the large snowfall much of the east coast experienced which happened to be in between MCPS’s two semesters, Robinson said, “it would have been nice to have the day off to relax after the long semester”. Likewise, senior Emily Smith stated, “I wish we got the day off to get a break from the uniform schedule”.
When questioned on the idea of snow days becoming permanent online school days, Robinson stated, “I would be incredibly upset if snow days were replaced by online school.” Similarly, Lovinger said, “I would feel sad because of the many joyful and memorable moments that would be missed.” Emily Smith agreed with both people, even adding a heartwarming reason why snow days should still be possible: “kids couldn’t go sledding during the day and sleep in.” For most, snow days seem like a day of relaxation and fun, and turning that into daunting online school doesn’t seem like the best idea. Although MCPS hasn’t discussed this idea, the obvious fact is that there have already been a couple of days where, if in-person, MCPS would’ve canceled school, yet due to online schooling, that didn’t happen. So might snow days be a thing of the past? Possibly.
When social studies teacher, Mr. Gallagher was asked about the future of snow days, he stated he would not be too upset if they became online, but he explained, “if that happens they should get rid of the 2-4 snow days that are built into the calendar each year”. Like most, Mr. Gallagher agreed that snow days make his work experience better; “unexpected breaks are nice surprises” he added.
Comparing MCPS’s decision on snow days to private schools, it’s interesting to look at how they handled snow days differently this year. In prior years, Bullis School was ahead of the game in that they were utilizing virtual learning. If students could not attend in-person classes due to inclement weather, they were expected to participate in virtual learning and do their work from home. However, Bullis and the Academy of the Holy Cross both decided to give their students one snow day this year. Both schools are currently doing hybrid learning but decided that giving the day off from virtual classes would not harm anyone. Bullis’ logic was that younger students in Kindergarten would not experience the excitement that comes along with a snow day if they did not give it off.
Senior Elliot Lovinger agreed with that and stated, “snow days in the winter are what kids dream of, and they make school in the winter more fun due to the many memories made...and all the joy and happiness that comes with it.” That said, MCPS will probably not do the same this year. So far, there have been 3-4 days where it has snowed enough that if we were in person, we probably would have had a delayed opening or have been given the day off, but virtual instruction has continued as scheduled.
Since MCPS is a sizable district, it poses the question in future years that if there was a snow day, how would they ensure all students had the materials, internet access, and a device to join school remotely. When some students did not have materials to participate in virtual learning at the start of the pandemic, MCPS took lots of time to distribute them, but on a fluke snow day, how could they ensure all students would be able to participate? Taking this into consideration, maybe snow days won’t be a thing of the past after all. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see until next winter when in-person learning is back.