School snow days should not be considered obsolete

Written By Rachel Ross, Co-Opinions Editor

According to the Goldfish commercial, there’s no day like a snow day. Whether you’re from the South or the West Coast, where one centimeter of snow is enough to close a school and start preparations for the rapture, or you’re from the Midwest or East Coast, and you’re not sure why you had to attend with three feet of snow yesterday, but now today, with an inch more, the school is shutting down, the majority of Americans from practically any age group can relate to the excitement of disregarding your responsibilities because of cold sky water. But what happens now that we’ve developed new systems for working from home? Two years into the pandemic, practically every school and workplace in the country is accustomed to moving operations online, so do snow days even exist anymore? From what I’ve gathered, the answer is: kind of?

There definitely isn’t a nationwide consensus yet it’s more like a nationwide shrug with no one being sure what to do. Some places are keeping snow days around, and others are phasing them out. Obviously, I’m not an expert of any kind when it comes to making these decisions. However, the real push for snow days is more about its place in American culture and less about its practicality. I guess at that point it comes down to making a decision based on what you think would be most responsible.

From that perspective, it seems almost a no brainer to make snow days online learning days. It would give schools the opportunity to continue instruction despite inclement weather, and they would be free of worrying about using up allotted snow days and having to dip into other reserves for more, such as spring break or summer vacation. It would help with maintaining efficiency and productivity. After all, these new innovations in online learning were created in order to allow instruction to continue in different environments. So it would certainly be the practical decision.

But I’m not 100% sure it’s the right decision. I’m not 100% sure it’s the wrong one either. I’m just doing my best Keanu impression and playing devil’s advocate. I think given the new circumstances and innovations, there really isn’t an argument-at least not that I would be aware of with my limited knowledge on how all that works- as to why we wouldn’t get rid of them other than, “but they’re fun though.” Not really the best reasoning in the world. However, I’m not necessarily convinced that makes it any less valid.

A snow day offers an extremely unique experience, especially when you’re a kid. It’s a multi-stage event when you’re a kid. You hear the rumors around the arts and crafts table that there could be a snow day tomorrow, which spreads to the whole class. Then the teacher has to step in and either confirm or deny its validity, and regardless of what they say, you’re still going to hope for it.

Then, for the first time in your short life, you go home and turn on the news channel in hopes of seeing your school’s name crawling across the bottom of the screen – right above the Cellino and Barnes or Owl Orthodontics ads (if you’re from Western New York at least). And of course you have to perform all the necessary rituals: putting the spoon under the pillow, flushing ice cubes down the toilet, wearing a sombrero in a goofy fashion, eating cubed cheese or whatever else.

But the best moment of all is obviously finding out you do in fact have a snow day, which in my experience, comes in three variations: afternoon, late evening, or first thing in the morning. Late evening was always my favorite because it offered the opportunity to plead to stay up a little longer and watch one more episode of “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” Then you get to the promised day, and you feel on top of the world. You can do whatever you want, as long as it’s ok with whoever’s watching you, because you’re six. “Wizards of Waverly Place” all day. Fresh grilled cheese for lunch. I guess actually going outside and playing in the snow if that’s what you’re into, but I was not.

On the flip side, of course you’re heartbroken if you get all excited and worked up just for the promised day to never come. But a part of it was just fun to hope, and you look forward to the next opportunity to do it again–maybe with a few more ice cubes this time.

Sure, over the years the details change a little bit, but more or less this is an experience that most of us can relate to, and that our parents can relate to, and our grandparents. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would be sad to know that our generation was the last one to experience a real snow day. I wouldn’t want to see it become a relic of a different time that people use as a flex of superiority–like having been alive when MTV still played music videos, or having to complete a trek to school every day similar to that of a Super Mario level.

I just question if it always has to be about what’s most efficient. Maybe sometimes it should be about what’s an important life experience. I mean, that’s why schools do things like dances, or festivals or even graduations. If they really wanted to they could just shuffle the kids in there, teach them the stuff, throw them out and have that be the end of it. It would save money, time, hassle, etc. But we do those things because they’re fun experiences. Of course, it’s important that schools are able to operate and educate efficiently–that’s not a question. I’m just not sure that we’re lacking so thoroughly in the efficiency department that schools can’t throw the kids a snow day here and there. If there’s a really bad storm, a mess that goes on all week, then absolutely utilize online learning. But other than that, I’m not sure it’s necessary. Further, online learning, at least to my understanding, is supposed to be a last resort thing. If it’s just one day, maybe let it go.

Again, I would like to stress that I’m in no way, shape, or even form an expert about any of this. I’m just someone who has good memories of playing with Hot Wheels in my Grandma’s hallway on a snow day. Sure, times change and traditions change, and it would probably be more practical to send them out, but maybe the practical answer isn’t always the best one. I mean, deep fried Oreos aren’t practical. Even just the name deep fried Oreos sounds like a horribly unhealthy idea. But I still get them from the fair every year, because I love them, and they’re so good, and I enjoy participating in something as absurd as deep frying a cookie. Part of life is taking time to experience things because they’re fun, in moderation of course. So all I’m saying is…let the children have their deep fried Oreos every once in a while.