Should snow days for schools still exist?
Plenty of students had their first “snow day” of the year Tuesday, and with several schools remaining closed due to power and HVAC outages, Spike and Ursula debated the necessity of snow days in schools.
“Sometimes, I change my mind based on a little more information, and we have more information about how that remote teaching went. And in many cases, it wasn’t ideal,” said Ursula Reutin, co-host of The Gee and Ursula Show. “And I don’t think, for teachers, it’s as easy as just saying, we’re going to go remote. And a lot of times, I know that to call a snow day or decide whether it’s bad enough to cancel classes for the day, a lot goes into it. And sometimes that decision isn’t so crystal clear. I think it would be almost more disruptive if you tried to make it a remote teaching day.”
Shoreline Public Schools were also closed Wednesday. Issaquah schools remained open today, but were delayed two hours with buses on snow routes, according to the district.
“To your point, the ability to just flip a switch and go remote, that’s not really the reality of the situation,” said Spike O’Neill, guest host of The Gee and Ursula Show. “One day at home is not a problem. One day teaching at home is not a problem. But we all don’t have a home classroom set up anymore. I don’t think it’s practically realistic and worth the time and effort it’s going to take to put that in place. So I’m a snow day fan.”
But not everyone is in agreement with Spike and Ursula over the necessity of snow days. New York City Public Schools District canceled having snow days last year.
“On ‘snow days’ or days when school buildings are closed due to an emergency, all students and families should plan on participating in remote learning,” the city’s school district website stated.
“Schools do have built-in flex days, right? So if there are three days that are snow days, then they don’t have to tack on to the end of the year,” said Andrew “Chef” Lanier, producer of The Gee and Ursula Show. “I am more protective of my time in the summer than I am for having my kids be able to play in the snow all day, as opposed to just six hours of the day. There’s still going to be plenty of time for them to play in the snow.”
Kelly Keane, Director of the Educational Technology program at Loyola University Maryland’s School of Education, has advocated for keeping snow days in schools, citing school’s lack of equipment to deal with snow and mental health breaks for students.
“Snow days also give teachers the opportunity to pause and take a breath — which is especially needed in the current environment,” Keane wrote. “Many educators have struggled to adapt to hybrid or distance learning models, have been coping with isolation, and are exploring ways to improve learner motivation through a screen. A snow day for teachers would be a welcome and well-deserved break.”
The debate wears on, as superintendents raise concerns over inaccurate forecasts, making up for lost days, and not being able to provide hot lunches and food for students below the federal poverty limit.