Are Snow Days Ruined Forever?

Jasmine Washington

As the polar vortex continues around the United States, the weather has dramatically dropped to colder temperatures and freezing roads. With the confusing weather of Arkansas, there isn’t a yes or no on how students should be prepared for the upcoming days. With snow likely to happen this coming Monday, students have a chance of having a snow day on Tuesday if things don’t melt. But a snow day isn’t as fun anymore.

Back in elementary school, all of my classmates have informed me about how much they loved snow days. It meant staying home and just doing whatever you wished. Students could forget about their schoolwork for 24 hours, running around in the small amount of snow Arkansas gets and just having fun. But…this all changed suddenly. Snow days stopped being a break day and turned into a “remote learning day” using electronic devices. 

Now you may be wondering: when did this even begin? Though every state in the U.S. is different and has its own type of weather, this all began when around the time of 2016-17. In that winter, schools around Oregon lost nine days of school due to weather from December to January. Some schools in Oregon even lost 14 days of school due to the snow and cold temperatures. This later became another issue in how students performed in school, considering the number of days students were given off and the freedom given to them. 

Another great issue with snow days and school closure were meals. According to edutopia.org, 20 million students receive free lunch at school, while 11.7 million are given free breakfast. This is more helpful to those students with households that are unable to afford more than one meal or always take care of a child’s needs. If a family is in a poor financial situation, the child has a chance to eat breakfast and lunch at school without charge. 

After this, schools quickly began to realize how bad things would be affected if schools continued to allow students to have a free day due to bad weather and snow. Test scores could drop, which would affect the funding schools received for activities they’d need to supply students with. Students and teachers would lose days of their summer making up days. Some students may not be able to be fed – a great concern to school districts around America. Sooner than later, something had to be done.

Responding to the measures that Oregon took to prevent students from falling behind in school, other states began deciding that if a snow day were to happen, it meant students (in all grades) were expected to have virtual learning days. This meant that regardless of if a student were in first grade or in their senior year of high school, they wouldn’t be staying home anymore and enjoying the weather. Instead, they would be doing schoolwork on their computers from all of their classes. 

So, why is this an issue? It prevents students from falling behind in school, and it’s a way for students to still communicate with their teachers through email if they’re lost on an assignment. But this is not the full story. It can be exhausting to go to school, regardless of this being virtual or in-person. Taking time off from school is a relief, keeping children and teenagers from being stressed to the point of breakdowns. When you consider the mental health of a person, just continuing schoolwork online and not allowing people to have a break can be an extreme issue. 

It’s been a great debate since the decision to turn snow days into virtual learning days if it was the right move. According to the New York Times, the… the wonderful year of 2020 might have also affected how snow days are expected to go. After the coronavirus was identified in America and began spreading rapidly, schools were forced to shut down. In the years prior, students in the Fort Smith School district had been provided with their own Chromebooks, which allowed them to use all the different Google apps and complete schoolwork digitally instead of on paper. When students at Chaffin were informed in March to get as much as they could from their lockers and take their Chromebooks with them, it was fair to assume we wouldn’t be back for a while. No one would’ve guessed that people were expected to stay indoors until the end of August when school was allowed to open again. 

The New York Times believes that schools found it easier for students to do virtual learning through things like Zoom, Google Docs/Slides, and Google Classroom (before the development of Schoology). These platforms were students’ sources to continue their learning through May. Still, many students struggled to get their work completed from home. And considering all of the wild events that took place from March to August in 2020, it’s completely understandable. Schools soon found a way to keep students in class without putting them in their seats – all through the computer. Schools then figured out that they could follow the same procedures on school days.

Though schools have been continuing virtual days during snow days for years now, it’s becoming an even greater problem. Students are already emotionally exhausted, living through a pandemic, and trying to complete school. Snow days should be a treat for children & teenagers to enjoy – not another day that students have to dread constantly.

Image Sources: 

Image One, Featured Image: AerisWeather.com

Image Two: TIMEForKids.com

Image Three: MichiganRadio.org

Image Four: CNN.com