Snow Days: the role they serve in the world of pandemic schooling

Kalamazoo+Public+Schools+facebook+account+posts+a+graphic+to+their+page+announcing+the+first+school+closing+this+year+on+January+6th.+This+snow+day+marked+the+first+since+the+start+of+the+pandemic.

Kalamazoo Public Schools facebook account posts a graphic to their page announcing the first school closing this year on January 6th. This snow day marked the first since the start of the pandemic.

Amady Mboup, Knights Speak Team

As we enter the winter season, the topic of what to do when school is inaccessible due to the weather has come back into focus. Taking a look at Loy Norrix specifically, many are wondering whether the role of the snow day will stay true to its roots or if the adoption of virtual teaching technology will render this old system obsolete through the introduction of virtual lessons on snow days?

 In the past, snow days have always been associated with a nice day off to do anything other than attend school, but with the recent online infrastructure update brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing virtual learning opportunities, it is apparent that this may no longer be the case.

Every indication I have gotten from my bosses is that snow days are gonna function like they did pre-pandemic, so if a snow day is called it would be a typical closing of school”

— Principal Christopher Aguinaga

With most students having access to a computer and internet at home due to last year’s all-virtual schooling, most have realized that the idea of holding lessons virtually in the event of poor weather conditions is a viable option for schools.

For students and staff alike, the popular idea seems to be continuing the tradition of days off on snow days, despite the virtual learning infrastructure already being put into place.

“I love them,” said junior Kameran Long. Pertaining to the idea of going virtual during a snow day as opposed to having the day off, Long said,“I think it’s unfair to expect us to automatically switch to virtual school when normally, in a normal year, we would just have the day off.” 

Economics teacher and NHS advisor Ryan Allen said, “It should be a complete break. I think those snow days are valuable because they’re like little gifts to recharge.”

 When asked his opinion on whether or not teachers would be willing to teach online during snow days, Allen said, “[If we had to go virtual] I think we would do it. Like we taught all last year at home you know, and it was not like our top objective to do so, but a lot of educators stepped up to the plate and did it. This would be the same thing.”

Principal Christopher Aguinaga had lots to say about the current state of our beloved snow days.

“Every indication I have gotten from my bosses is that snow days are gonna function like they did pre-pandemic, so if a snow day is called it would be a typical closing of school,” said Aguinaga.

When asked for his opinion of this plan, Aguinaga asserted, “My initial thought was ‘Oh, guess what? I guess we don’t need snow days anymore,’ but as we went through the pandemic and we didn’t have snow days because we were virtual, [I realized] snow days do give a mental break and not just to students but also to staff. So I’ve evolved on that one… I was kind of [like] ‘let’s do it virtual,’ but now I’ve oscillated and I think that it’s a good idea that we close schools.”

Principal Aguinaga further went on to further explain how switching to a virtual plan would be unrealistic and even in the event that a virtual decision was made, it would look more like independent, asynchronous working rather than structured, scheduled live lessons. This would likely entail assignments or content posted on Google Classroom for students to interact with on their own time. 

But despite this willingness and preparation to do virtual teaching, as of now all signs point towards no teaching and no asynchronous learning on snow days. At this time, KPS has no official statement concerning an exact plan or protocol for snow days this year.

So it seems that for the time being, the age-old tradition of closed schools and copious amounts of free time will remain a reality for Norrix students, which is sure to be a relief to those that may have been burdened with managing responsibilities at home on top of structured virtual lessons. 

Staff and students alike will once more be able to stick a spoon under their pillow in hopes that the next day will be a snow day, and with that will come a much deserved break.