Mike Kennedy New 2110 63d00d430874b

Let it snow

Feb. 3, 2023
Snow days are becoming a relic of the past at many schools.

It’s an occupational hazard, but as I report and write about the latest events affecting schools and universities, I can’t help recalling my own days as a student and comparing the present with the past.

And in January and February, those memories often involve snow days. Back in the day, we didn’t have them very often—nearly every student at my elementary school lived within walking distance so it took a sizable snowfall to shut things down. But when the occasional blizzard hit and word spread through the neighborhood that classes were canceled, we headed outside in our boots and parkas, grateful for the surprise gift falling from the sky.

Of course, that was a child’s perspective. Adults were likely to view a snow day more as an unwelcome distraction than a gift. The ones who called the shots on cancellation had to worry about whether an instructional day would have to be rescheduled or if the snow day would affect school funding. The adults of those celebrating children often found themselves having to scramble for childcare at the last minute.

Now, in 2023, snow days are becoming a relic of the past for some school districts.

Schools have learned through hard experience that they can continue to conduct classes even when students are unable to gather in a classroom. Dealing with the shutdown of facilities brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, school administrators pivoted to online instruction as a way for teachers to keep providing lessons to students.

Remote instruction may not be considered a wise long-term strategy for educating students—critics have raised concerns about the isolation some students feel and whether access to technology is equitable.

But for one day, many schools see online lessons as a more productive use of time than canceling classes altogether.

So some school systems—most notably the nation’s largest, New York City, have declared an end to snow days.

The adult in me sees that as a wise decision.

But the child in me yearns for a day of sledding and snowball fights instead of staring at a computer screen.

(Editor’s Note: Because of an error in the November-December 2022 issue, the Architectural Portfolio pages for the Echo Educational Enrichment Center & Dr. Debra Parrish-Hooks Administrative Center in South Holland, Ill., contained some incorrect photographs. The corrected entry appears on pages 20-21.)


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About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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