Snow days are irrelevant, online school is the way of the future

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Graphic by Angelina Guhl

With a virtual learning infrastructure already in place, snow days are now irrelevant.

Kara Venditti, Opinions Writer

Snow days are often considered a nostalgic childhood necessity, but as educational infrastructure makes leaps and bounds in innovation, they no longer serve a purpose. Due to the success of virtual learning during the pandemic, many school systems are planning to get rid of snow days once in-person learning is resumed. Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) should follow suit and replace snow days with online sessions when schools reopen. 

After moving all education to a virtual setting for the first semester of this school year, MCPS has equipped itself with the necessary infrastructure to shift to online learning in the event of a weather emergency MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith, said “this digital experience is never going to go away entirely” in an article from FOX5DC. The transition to online school during this pandemic has given MCPS and other school systems across the nation the opportunity to cut snow days and ensure that students can receive continuous schooling.

Snow days are unnecessary during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, they will also be wasteful once MCPS is back in school buildings. Junior Rosemary Yang said “[I don’t] think it’s reasonable to take more time out of lesson-teaching.” Having snow days during in-person school takes away valuable instructional days, resulting in teachers rushing lessons which leads to a weaker understanding of the material for students. Snow days are detrimental to academic performance, are time-consuming and have negative impacts both on students and on staff. 

In addition to impacting the day-to-day dynamics of school, snow days make it harder for teachers to prepare their students for standardized testing. Regardless of how many days are taken off due to weather events during the year, test dates for Advanced Placement courses, subject SATs, and International Baccalaureate exams are not pushed back, leaving students scrambling to review test material in a reduced timeframe. Often, teachers use time in class to provide beneficial preparation activities such as AP problems and essay practices. With snow days eating away at instructional time, these critical exercises are skipped over.

With the capacity for virtual learning, snow days will soon become nothing more than nostalgia since they had no significant benefits in the first place. Students, school administration and county officials alike agree with the sentiment that these days off have no educational value for students and do more harm than good. Senior Danesh Sivakumar said, “snow days are pretty much obsolete, like what’s the point?” According to the New York Times, New York City’s school system, which has already converted to a hybrid education model, canceled snow days for the year because of the lost instructional time due to the pandemic.

 Art history teacher Michael McDermott said, “with the development of the virtual system, people no longer have to travel to work anymore. Snow days are done.” Some may argue that it is unreasonable to expect teachers to quickly adapt to online school for just a day, however, teachers at Richard Montgomery are able to send out recorded video-lessons early on snow days. There are many possible ways for teachers to continue education for students at a remote distance. 

In recent years, MCPS has often been forced to extend the school year into the summer vacation in order to meet the state requirements for minimum instructional days. Having periodic days off during the school year may provide temporary relief for students and teachers, however, a long summer break is more favorable. Without snow days, students, teachers and other staff will be able to enjoy having longer summer breaks. While some may still hold onto the sentimentality of snow days, it is clear that its time has come to an end.

Before the pandemic and the need for an efficient virtual schooling system, getting two inches of snow would have canceled school in MCPS. This typically creates a great amount of stress for many parents who not only have to worry about their work but also now have to cater to their children’s needs. This burden is especially heavy when it comes to younger children who usually want to spend hours outside playing in the snow and must be closely watched to keep them safe. Having online classes keeps kids preoccupied and parents would not have to concern themselves constantly about their children’s safety. 

Thanks to virtual school, snow days are no longer necessary, seeing as students and teachers can continue classes remotely using Zoom and other virtual learning resources. These momentary breaks from learning will always be a fond memory, but increasingly intensive curriculums make education a priority. And with the successful run of online schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no longer an excuse to not replace snow days. A blizzard? Bring it on— no one fears that sort of thing anymore.