Schools across the country are swapping out traditional snow days for remote learning. This feels more like a punishment than a benefit.
The New York City school chancellor announced earlier this school year that remote learning will replace the traditional snow day. Chancellor David Banks mentioned that “new technology” learned from COVID-19 protocols will allow students to keep learning, even during snow storms. While this could eliminate the need to add days to the end of the school calendar year, it doesn’t help working parents or families without access to quality equipment or WiFi.
New York isn’t the only state doing away with snow days. Schools in other parts of the country have either eliminated snow days or are considering it in favor of remote learning days.
I hate this idea. I respect the pros and cons to this “solution” but, to me, this all feels like a con.
My Son’s School Can Accommodate His Disability but Not Mine—Virtual Learning Made it Worse
As a kid I used to pray for snow days. Every news report of upcoming winter weather gave me something to look forward to. My brother and I would wait and watch the school closings crawl across the bottom of the TV screen to see if our school would be listed.
My oldest child is only in the third grade, so we don’t have too much experience with school closings due to snow—thanks in part to the pandemic too. But my children still love the snow and want the excitement of a day off because of it.
When the world shut down and remote learning first began, my oldest son was midway through kindergarten. He spent half of his kindergarten year and the entire year of first grade behind a computer screen. I made absolutely no secret about how much we both hated remote learning.
Forcing five and six-year-old kids to spend a full day on screens in a virtual classroom didn’t work. My son would wander off half of the time and the teacher spent a considerable amount of time telling me how he wasn’t focused or how he’d spend time writing in the Zoom chat. I have remote learning trauma I’m still working through.
Our kids have been through enough in the last two years; the least we can do is let them have a snow day. I understand the emerging argument that they shouldn’t have to “miss” learning days due to the weather.
It took a considerable amount of snow for school to close in the ’90s, but those days off did not have an adverse effect on my education. I was still an honor roll student for most of my academic years and the few days I spent playing in the snow did not suddenly make me forget everything I had already learned. It also did not prevent me from being able to absorb new knowledge.
Learning can take place anywhere and at any time. There are plenty of studies that show there are lessons in play, and it’s important for our kids to see that sometimes it’s okay to take a break.
Kids Need Access to Mental Health Days
I personally know the joy I feel on an unexpected day off. If we spend more time worrying about them “falling behind” than giving them the joys of childhood, when do they get time to be children? When do they learn the importance of mental health days? Let them play! The extra day or two away from the classroom will not suddenly plunge them into academic failure.
I want to enjoy my day off too. I have no desire to go out into the snow. I actually dread it now. But I don’t want to spend my day making sure the technology isn’t failing, reminding my kids to sit down and pay attention, while trying to keep their toddler sister from being a distraction.
Forcing kids into remote learning instead of the snow feels more like a punishment than a benefit. Make it optional for someone who has time. But that someone is not me. I promise if we get a snow day we’ll be playing outside until we can’t feel our fingers. We’ll then come inside to warm up with hot chocolate and movies.