Fundamental to our childhood, snow days should be here to stay

Snow+days+are+too+difficult+to+replace+with+online+learning+and+represent+integral+parts+of+childhood.

Graphic by Angelina Guhl

Snow days are too difficult to replace with online learning and represent integral parts of childhood.

Lydia Yeh, Opinions Writer

There is no feeling quite like a snow day. Waking up late and looking out of your window to see a blanket of white covering the neighborhood is a quintessential childhood memory. However, with Montgomery County Public School’s (MCPS) shift to online learning as the primary education form during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a debate surrounding the abolishment of snow days in favor of online school days. Considering the potential consequences, MCPS should not get rid of snow days once in-person learning resumes.

Several logistical hurdles will arise if MCPS decides to discontinue snow days. In the current online learning system, schools have loaned a Chromebook to every student who requested one, providing devices to students that had no other way to access the internet. After the COVID-19 crisis is over, students will have to readjust to a physical learning environment and return their Chromebooks. Science teacher Akshay Gandhi said, “how would we distribute [Chromebooks] back to people on a less than 24-hour notice of a snow day?”

If snow days are replaced with online learning days, it is unlikely that MCPS would be able to quickly and efficiently redistribute materials. This would leave many low-income students without access to the same resources and aid that they currently do, making it impossible to attend class. Additionally, the heavy precipitation that leads to snow days often causes power outages throughout the county. Since not all students have reliable internet access or technology, especially when their electricity goes down, mandatory attendance on “cyber” snow days would be unreasonable and creates undue stress.

Sophomore Diya Britto said, “I would worry about missing out on work that I couldn’t go to because of internet access.” Many students, namely disadvantaged ones with working parents, also have other family responsibilities on snow days. For these students, even if they did have ways to attend Zoom classes, absences would skyrocket due to their out-of-school commitments.

Along with the logistical difficulties that students would be subjected to, teachers would also struggle as not all lessons are easily convertible to an online platform. English teacher Jeremy Koenig said, “usually when snow days hit, it’s somewhat of a surprise. Teachers don’t have stuff prepared for online. They’re two different things, [and] to just think that online instruction is just a very easy switch when you need to is not how it works.” Unless a teacher makes two versions of a lesson plan daily, one for an online setting and another for in-person, it is infeasible to replace snow days with virtual ones.

Unfortunately, even if teachers did make two lesson plans in case of an emergency, activities like science labs and group discussion are only possible in physical school. These types of lessons are fundamental to a student’s education. If a snow day occurs and classes must be moved online for a day or two, these lessons would not be postponed, rather eliminated because virtual school days are expected to replace, not supplement, physical school.

Another argument to consider is the social aspect of snow days. For generations, snow days have allowed students to have fun and unwind from an otherwise stressful school week. Goofing off with siblings and watching cartoons while knowing that without the snow day, you would be stuck in school, is a much-needed blissful feeling. This will be taken away if online school replaces days that should be used for sledding and making new neighborhood friends.

Snow days also provide unique benefits for high schoolers. Many teenage students are under constant stress from heavy workloads, advanced classes and extracurriculars. Snow days serve as one of the few ways to recuperate from the exhausting school system. Britto said, “snow days are a good way to destress. There are definitely benefits when it comes to mental health, and when it is a snow day and when it is snowing, you want to go outside and not sit in front of a laptop all day.”

Every year, schools push more work onto their students, and snow days are one of the only chances to take a true break without worrying about absences and missed work. It is unfair to expect students to sign onto a digital learning space during snow days, just as it is unfair to make teachers scramble to create new lesson plans and teach online. Although having snow days can take away instructional time, abolishing snow days in favor of mandatory online school is not the right move as it is logistically infeasible and would take away the opportunity to make lasting memories. The nostalgia that comes with snow days is unique and taking away the tradition is incomprehensible.