Snow days have not been canceled, despite the rise of remote learning, writes Nathan M. Sorber, a higher education professor at West Virginia University, on The Conversation. In the 35 states with the highest average annual snowfall, "while more schools are using remote learning days instead of canceling classes, the traditional snow day is far from extinct."
"During the pandemic years, more schools got better at teaching online and saw opportunities to reduce school closings during winter storms," he writes. But few believe students learn much from remote classes.
Some urban school systems, such as New York City, St. Paul and St. Louis announced plans to replace snow days with remote learning. But most will not. "For example, in Baltimore, the superintendent announced that remote learning would be used . . . only 'as a last resort' after the five makeup days in the calendar were exhausted."
Nostalgia also plays a role. In West Virginia, schools will use a portion of their allotted nontraditional instruction days but reserve an “old-fashioned snow day” for students.
The nostalgic sentiment for preserving the snow day tradition was epitomized in a viral post from Jefferson County, West Virginia, Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson, who declared on the first snow day of last year that school would be “closed for students … closed for virtual … closed for staff.” She said, “For generations, families have greeted the first snow day of the year with joy. … It is a time of renewed wonder at all the things that each season holds. A reminder of how fleeting a childhood can be. An opportunity to make memories with your family that you will hold onto for life.”
When New York was hit by a blizzard in December, "Buffalo Public Schools chose to shift to remote learning, but neighboring Niagara Falls canceled" school, Sorber writes. "For now, children can continue with rituals to flush ice cubes down the toilet, wear pajamas inside-out and place spoons under their pillows – and hope not only for a snow day, but for a day without remote learning too."