When I was a child, I walked uphill to school both ways ... barefoot! OK, OK — that isn't even close to true! Not for me, anyway!
In reality, when I was a child, my dad drove us to school every morning and we were generally picked up after school by my mom. Sometimes, there was bike-riding or walking involved. That is neither here, nor there, though — this is about snow days!
I grew up in small-town North Dakota. When I say small, I think the population was somewhere around 2,800 people — small. I moved to Fergus Falls when I was 16-years-old and finished up my high school career locally.
Having my own kids, now, along with the number or snow days as of late, we have had a number of conversations and plenty of reminiscing in my house about snow days of the past.
I seem to recall that 20-plus years ago, it was very rare that school would be cancelled before it was delayed. In fact, I can't seem to recall an instance in which we knew that school was going to be late/cancelled prior to the day of the snow storm. We would wake up in the morning and flip on the radio or watch the banner on the bottom of the news station on TV to stay up-to-date on the status of school for the day. More often than not, we would show up and hour or two late to start our day. It wasn't often that we would miss an entire day. We also had snow days built into our schedule so when there were the inevitable days that the weather was terrible, we wouldn't have to extend the school year.
The snow day that is most memorable, for me, was during the spring of 2002. The day prior, it was so nice outside (and hot inside the classroom) that we had a number of classes outside. The next day, school was cancelled due to a snowstorm!
Truth be told, I wasn't one of those students who looked forward to snow days. I liked school, even if I didn't necessarily like waking up in the morning. Sitting still and staying cooped up in the house just wasn't at the top of my priority list. More often than not, snow days meant cleaning my bedroom ... and I was an expert at messy! The highlights of snow days were usually mom baking cookies and increased time to bury my nose in a book, if I had one on hand, anyway!
I am curious about how snow days are determined nowadays. It seems like the kids (who attend school in Fergus Falls) have had so many snow days that were called early and then nothing materialized, weather-wise. Then, on the other hand, there are days in which I cannot believe that there is school because of the weather ... I just can't make sense of it.
Then, there is the curiosity that I have heard from so many surrounding the absence of e-learning days within the kids' school district. Each child in upper elementary through high school is provided a computer for their educational use, but there has been no use of the machines to eliminate having to make up snow days — why is that?
I have heard a number of speculative reasons why this may be the case — key word: speculative. One of those reasons is because distance learning during the school shutdown for COVID-19 at the end of 2020 was so poorly received (hated).
I was one of those parents who struggled with distance learning. I was also working from home and couldn't afford to not work to help the kids with their school work, but found that I regularly had to pause my own work in order for them to get their own completed. One of the kids was completely self-sufficient and got it done, no problem. Another of the kids would get all logged in, but when he didn't understand how to complete the work, he didn't ask for help, so he ended up with a lot of makeup work for assignments he submitted that contained no information. The most difficult, though, was one child; who lied, manipulated and threw 3-year-old temper tantrums on the floor when he got caught or had to make up the work.
Yep, distance learning was a nightmare; but, an e-learning day, in my opinion, is different than distance learning.
Weather is going to happen in this part of the country. Snow days are necessary and inevitable, but I don't feel that the expectation on students and parents is the same on a snow day as it would be during the distance learning era.
When a snow day occurs, parents with younger children are often staying home from work in most cases. They have the ability to help their kids with schoolwork, and there is no rule saying that the schoolwork needs to be difficult, by any means.
Is it possible for an e-learning plan to be put into place that can be dropped into older students learning platforms so the snow day can count as a school day? Can younger students' parents be emailed a project for the kids to complete so the snow day can count as a school day? I don't know the answer; but after observing the homework the was part of distance learning, and how my older students complete homework on their school-supplied computers, I just don't see why not.
Snow days — even my kids now hate them; because who wants to sit in school in June? They certainly don't!