It’s a brisk winter morning. You wake up to the deafening sound of your alarm, pull your bedding a little bit tighter to keep the cold air out, gently rub your eyes, which are tired from reading and writing for the majority of yesterday, and open them, preparing yourself for the harsh new day. Or maybe, not? Any New Yorker knows that snow days are essential to surviving the cold winter. However, after a recent memo sent out by the New York State Education Department allowing districts to replace snow days with online classes, these sacred days are at risk.
In the past few months, education programs throughout the country have made extensive adjustments in order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia were some of the first states to set the precedent for reinstating snow days as virtual learning days. As COVID cases grow and winter approaches, New York did not shy away from following this precedent. On September 8th, 2020, the New York State Education Department issued a statement giving school districts a one-year option “to pivot to remote instruction to provide continuity of instruction on what would otherwise be a day of school closure due to a snow emergency,” as stated in the New York State Education Department website.
Students and teachers took a moment to reminisce on their favorite snow day traditions as they face the possible removal of them. “[My favorite snow day tradition is] drinking hot chocolate and sledding,” said juniors Sydney Balotin and Nina Dermody. Mrs. Rushford says her favorite snow day tradition is having a “big pancake breakfast in jammies in front of the fireplace.” Of course these things can still be done, they just won’t offer the same exciting experience as they would on a snow day.
This transition will not go quietly. “I don’t like it because school is a really stressful time and it’s nice to have breaks once in a while just so we can play outside,” said Balotin, along with the many others surveyed that agree with her. “I’ve always loved the idea of an unexpected and unplanned day off…I’m not sure I love the idea of giving up snow days to go 100% remote,” said Mrs. Wood. A true day off is rare, and after the movement to replace snow days, they’ll be even harder to come by.
A send-off to snow days : you will be missed. Students will miss the excitement leading up to a snow day, participating in fun snow activities, and “not having schoolwork to do,” said senior Lucas Bort. Teachers will miss the two hour delay, asking how everyone spent their day off, and “having a spontaneous free day,” said Mrs. Daly.
Even with the current possibility of completely eliminating snow days, there are still ways to get into the winter spirit. Playing in the snow, drinking warm beverages, and spending time with friends and family can all be done – just on your own time. Perhaps the replacement is for the better, considering the flexibility it gives to schools already falling behind on work due to COVID-19. However, given the circumstances surrounding this year, it’s safe to say a few extra days off are deserved. Snow day enthusiasts, like Mr. Hartley, will continue fighting for these days. “I think it may be unconstitutional. It’s like someone is trying to find all the fun and smush it,” said Hartley.