No More Snow Days by
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Prompted By Snowy Days

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View from my window on Snow Day II

On 2/2/22, my granddaughter’s school declared a “snow day” during a moderate snow storm that ended mid-afternoon. Parents and teachers were upset because the school made the call late, when staff and students who arrive early for before school activities were already there. Perhaps the strange date filled with twos made the day feel auspicious. But I have another theory. Perhaps the ability to have online learning substitute for actual school made this an easy call for the administration. But why no school the following day? Was this a make-up call for the bungled late notice the previous day?

I looked out the window of my condo on Snow Day Part II and saw cleared roads, buses and trains going by, cars easily making their way down the street, and pedestrians not even bundled up on a calm winter day with temperatures in the mid-twenties. Granted, there was a “winter weather advisory” that predicted a 30% chance that it might snow one to four inches, but come on. This is February in Chicago, and weather forecasts are often wrong.

Actually, there are no more “snow days” that need to be tacked onto the calendar at the end of the school year. While many kids learned very little since schools in my community were closed to in person learning in March, 2020, and remained closed until “hybrid learning” in the spring of 2021, our school district evidently learned something: that some form of online learning could be used in lieu of actual “snow days.” For my granddaughter, this meant asynchronous classes in which the teachers assigned more homework without doing any actual teaching. While teachers did learn how to teach synchronous classes over zoom, which means they presented actual lessons and students could participate and ask questions, this is not what happened during these “snow days.”

Perhaps teachers did not have lesson plans and materials at home to provide this more meaningful educational experience. But why not? If the plan is to plug in online classes whenever in-person school is closed, shouldn’t staff have a back-up plan available for these occasions? Yesterday, my granddaughter completed assignments without any instruction, some on topics that had not yet been introduced in class. The following day, she and her friends went ice skating. And why not? She could do her assignments anytime and no one seemed to care.

I think she and her friends deserved to have fun. They missed the end of middle school, including their graduation. They spent most of their freshman year of high school at home in front of computer screens. They attend school masked and miss out on many typical after school activities. My granddaughter has been dancing in a mask for almost two years and has had many performances and recitals cancelled. Life has been far from normal with the pandemic shaping her life.

As a former preschool director, I do understand how hard it can be to make the correct call about closing school for snow. When these days had to be made up, there was more pressure to make the right call. Now that schools believe online learning is an adequate substitute for in person education, we are likely to get more “snow days.” If we learned one thing when schools were closed, it was that many students, for a variety of reasons, do not learn very much via computer classes. Unfortunately, we also learned that this type of schooling counts.

On Snow Day II, not one flake of snow fell. Why wasn’t my granddaughter in school?

 

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Comments

  1. Suzy says:

    Laurie, you’ve written another important story that should be an op-ed in the newspaper! Since I have long been out of the school system, I had not thought of these issues (and of course where I live there are no snow days anyway). I do remember once when there were torrential rains and flooding, and I managed to get my kids to school anyway, but most of the teachers didn’t make it. They had to put some of the classes in the cafeteria or multipurpose room. The next day school was canceled, despite it being dry and sunny, just because there were still so many flooded streets.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      I did originally plan to publish the story in Medium and put it on my FB page, but decided against it because I talked about my granddaughter and because I knew it might stir up feelings in my community. We are still raw over the debate about keeping school open and mask wearing. I decided not to add any fuel to that fire.

  2. Marian says:

    What a fascinating story, Laurie–at least to me who never had kids and whose bonus grandkids are young adults. Working people can now do a lot of things asynchronously, too, but it’s hard to imagine that kids have the skills to do this. The school’s decisions in this case are inexplicable. At least here my neighbor’s kids don’t have to worry about snow days.

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