Under the shade: Death of the snow day

Ginnie Sandoval, Columnist

Editor’s Note: This column does not represent the opinion of The Daily Barometer. This column reflects the personal opinions of the writer.

Snow days have always been a staple of growing up in the north and an essential part of being a kid. Unfortunately though, these sacred days may now be a thing of the past and, sadly, may have become an unintended casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many people, myself included, growing up in Oregon means unpredictable weather. Where I grew up, every year, without fail, several feet of snow adorned our small town and the morning after was spent listening expectantly as the radio listed off all the school cancellations for that day. 

The house would erupt in celebration the moment they announced our school and a remarkable feeling would come over us knowing, instead of classrooms and books, the rest of the day would be spent playing in the snow.

Now, picture this same scenario, but in place of the celebration, you are told — although in-person school was canceled for the day — school goers would still be expected to attend virtually.

This idea as a strong possibility for students today is outrageous, and it is absolutely appalling to even suggest taking away this unforgettable day. There are countless others who agree with this sentiment, including Monroe resident, Jasmine Graves, who fondly recalls her childhood days when her family would receive the news of an unexpected snow day.

“Snow was rare sometimes and school being canceled was so special,” Graves said. “My siblings and I would race the neighborhood kids outside. Our footprints would be the first to touch the beautiful snow. We would then do the usual; snowball fights, snow angels and of course building snowmen.” 

But for Graves, and everyone else in the country, these experiences were put on hold when our world was turned upside down in 2020. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we had to isolate ourselves and our only means of communication was through technology.

Zoom immediately became a household name and permanently changed the way the world communicates and does business. With Zoom’s success and the success of other virtual services, it would seem that remote work is here to stay.

Does this mean remote schooling is also here to stay? Are snow days no longer necessary? According to a 2021 Politico article, it may be. 

The article states that some families are expected to opt to continue remote learning and because of this, some school districts are developing permanent options.

This potentiality is supported by a December 2020 USA Today article that states, 39% of school districts nationally have converted snow days to remote learning days and 32% were considering it.

However, even though some school districts may be considering these alternative options, there are many that are not, including the Benton County school district.

“Snow days have not died in our district,” said Sarah Finger McDonald, chairperson of the Corvallis school board. “Our board approved the school calendar which includes the accommodating possible days off for bad weather.” 

According to McDonald, the district never considered dropping snow days because there is no guarantee students will have remote access to log in. 

“We don’t want to create a situation where some students are able to attend class online and others are left out,” Finger McDonald said.

This seems the most logical answer to the question of whether or not a snow day is necessary, but what about the psychological aspect? While it is true that the pandemic created technological advances that resulted in more flexibility within our professional lives, our mental health has suffered significantly.

An article for the Tennyson Center for Children, written by mental health therapist, Lauren Dartt, states that without question, the pandemic’s impacts are increasing the severity of symptoms of trauma and mental health issues.

Mental health is essential during a child’s development and right now, children and adolescents are growing up much faster than earlier generations. Knowing this, deciding to replace snow days with virtual learning would ultimately do more harm than good.

“Let them enjoy something special and not be glued to the screen. Life doesn’t always have to be eight hours a day, Monday through Friday,” said Graves, who is now a parent herself. She is excited for her child to one day experience the same magic of a snow day that she did.

Snow days provide children with an opportunity to get outside and just enjoy being a kid. Permanently eliminating that won’t create smarter kids or produce higher test scores. The only thing it will do is destroy a magical part of all our childhoods and leave us with a soul crushing realization — nothing is sacred anymore.

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