Should There Still Be Snow Days?

Should There Still Be Snow Days?

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In response to a large storm that hit the East Coast this week, school districts across the United States continued with virtual instruction instead of canceling classes. The change could become permanent. How do you feel about the possible end of snow days?

What snow-day rituals do you look forward to most? Do you enjoy outdoor activities like snowball fights, ice skating and sledding? Or do you prefer to cozy up indoors with a good book or a favorite movie?

In “Children Love Snow Days. The Pandemic May End Them Forever,” Troy Closson writes about how snow days could become a bygone tradition:

In New York, it is still unclear whether the pandemic has eliminated snow days forever, but on Tuesday Mayor Bill de Blasio called them a “thing of the past.”

“I’m kind of sad for the kids on the one hand,” Mr. de Blasio said, but he also noted that not losing more class time this school year is particularly important. “On the other hand, we’ve got a lot of learning that needs to be done and lot of catching up.”

Similar plans have emerged elsewhere. In Philadelphia, teachers plan to continue classes virtually if the expected storm hits. In Denver, schools moved fully online for large snowfall in late October. And officials in Omaha said last month that students would learn online regardless of snow, even beyond this year. School will not be canceled; instead, snow days have been.

Some parents, however, said they were ready and willing to declare their own snow day regardless of the school’s decision:

Sarah Allen, a parent in the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn, said if streets near her home are coated, her four children will not be attending classes as usual.

“I felt like no matter what kind of learning we’re doing this year,” she said, “this isn’t something that needs to be taken away from kids who have already lost a lot, ranging from not being able to see friends to losing parents to Covid.”

Instead, Ms. Allen said that her husband would take the children to the park to build snowmen and enjoy the weather. Ms. Allen, a first-grade teacher at Public School 372 in Brooklyn, will be indoors, leading instruction for students who show up for class.

But she said she expected attendance to be lighter than normal, given that many of the school’s parents have told her they have similar plans for letting their children have a one-day vacation.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • How do you feel about snow days in general? Are they exciting breaks from the monotony of a school routine or do they create anxiety about missing lessons and schoolwork? Would you be upset if your school no longer had snow days?

  • Do you live in a school district that uses a lot of snow days? If so, do you enjoy the seasonal activities that come with winter, or do you dread the ice and cold? If you live in a warmer climate, have you ever wished you could experience a snow day? Has your school ever been closed for a weather-related event?

  • Is it fair for school districts to take snow days away from students (as well as teachers and parents)? Should schools be expected to cancel school even though so many districts are able to hold classes virtually?

  • Many education experts have said that keeping students in class is especially vital given the disruptive events of the past year. Do you think the educational and social tumult caused by the coronavirus pandemic is justification to forgo snow days and continue holding class? Or does it strengthen the case for giving students an academic break?

  • How do you feel about parents, like Ms. Allen, who said they planned to flout the rules and allow their children to take a snow day even if school was held virtually? Is it acceptable for parents to let their children skip school for the purpose of memory-making? Would you feel comfortable enjoying a snow day if it meant missing school?

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Students 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.