Wither snow days?

As I may or may not have explained before, I am a school teacher in the real world. And like much of the United States, I am facing the biggest snowstorm of this season Wednesday and Thursday.

As a kid, excessive amounts of snow, or bitter cold temperatures, would often mean school would be canceled and we would have a “snow day”. However like so many other things in the Covid era, snow days as we have known them may be coming to an end.

In anticipation of the bad weather, my school district has canceled in-school instruction for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Notice that I said that my school has “cancelled in-school instruction” as opposed to saying that I have three “snow days”.

My district claims that because we cancelled a few days of school for Covid, that we have depleted our extra built-in snow days. As a result, we are switching from in-school instruction to on-line classes for the rest of the week.

Given the way that technology has advanced, online instruction has always been on the proverbial horizon, and although we’ve had the technology in place for zoom calls and Microsoft Teams meetings, it wasn’t until Covid that we were promoted into finally using it.

While many workers have returned to the traditional brick and mortar office buildings, there are also quite a few who have opted to remain working from home. Some businesses have even decided to close down traditional office buildings as a cost-cutting measure to have workers work from their homes.

But like so many other things in life, where we gained something, we often lose something as well. This constant digital connectivity could ultimately mean the end of traditional snow days as we know them.

As a kid, a snow day from school was an event. It was a chance to get outside and enjoy the weather as it is. Sometimes it means a chance to just hunker down stay indoors and get caught up on TV. Whether your plan was to stay indoors or outdoors, you wanted to cram as much activity into a snow day as you could.

There is a great deal to be said about how young people interact and socialize with one another. This is why recess, physical education, even lunch are such important of a student’s school day These are the times that young people apply all the lessons they’ve learned in life. Those times are as close as students get to being “in the real world”. The same can be said for the snow day. Snow days can provide an opportunity to take the day-to-day academic lesson as and apply them. A great op-Ed piece from last year makes a case for saving snow days using this rationale.

But with technology advancing to the point it has now, – and our various COVID shutdowns being a testing ground for that – snow days may now be turning into virtual days permanently. I believe we will lose something with the end of “snow days“ as we know them.

Of course, now this opens this up to the possibility that one day the school’s Internet will go down. One door closes, another door opens…

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