We wonder who came up with this loopy idea that kids learning remotely are somehow entitled to snow days because they need the occasional day off to “play in the snow.”
We’re guessing it was probably school kids.
Because it sure wasn’t any adult who gave the concept even a remote amount of thought.
The reason for snow days isn’t to give kids a break to play in the snow. It’s for safety. Schools are closed for bad weather when it’s unsafe for kids to stand by the road waiting for the school bus, or when the roads are so bad that teachers and school staff can’t safely make it in.
But if the kids aren’t physically going to school, and if they have the option of learning remotely on days when in-person learning isn’t possible due to a covid outbreak, then there’s no reason for them to get a random day off just because it’s snowing outside.
Kids should be in school as much as possible, given the significant negative impact the alternative learning arrangement may be having on learning.
One study, conducted by the nonprofit education group NWEA reports that kids might be performing as much as 5-10% lower in math than the previous year.
Some have estimated that kids learning remotely, particularly those from poorer families, might be losing 10 months worth of instruction this year.
The hybrid of remote learning and in-school learning also is affecting attendance in many schools, which then translates into a lesser learning experience.
In Schenectady schools, for example, nearly 1,500 students have already missed at least 20 days of school, and another 1,200 students have missed between 10 and 19 days. That’s just in one quarter.
Kids can’t learn when they’re not in school, remotely or otherwise. Every single day a student is in school is vital, and every day they’re not can set them back.
We understand the nostalgia many adults feel about snow days, growing up listening to the radio for our school’s name to be called and then that feeling of rejoicing when we heard it. And we understand kids need the occasional break from intensive learning, especially now.
But really, this is not the time to be wasting school days arbitrarily. Kids are off enough during the school year already, starting this coming week with Christmas vacation.
And what would happen if it didn’t snow much this winter? Would schools be compelled to give kids random days off anyway?
You might point to Thursday’s unexpected major snowstorm as justification for a snow day. But then ask yourself if adults who work remotely as a result of the pandemic got the day off because of the snow. We’re betting most didn’t.
If the kids want to play in the snow, they’ll have plenty of time this weekend, and probably every weekend until May.
Canceling school because of snow when snow days have become obsolete in a remote-learning environment is not only unnecessary, but irresponsible and potentially harmful.