School districts: Please don’t take away snow days

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When I was still in school, every snow day felt like a wintry gift from God.

The second I’d hear an inkling of a snowy weather forecast, I swear I’d spend the rest of the day with a spring in my step. For me, a snow day meant an unexpected break from the grind of daily life and school work. It meant a day of rest, time to catch up on any work I’d fallen behind on, at least three cups of piping hot chocolate, and a great time with friends, especially in college.

My college roommate and I would perform the snow dance for our dormmates, stumbling (me), giggling (my roommate), and changing our routine every time. While wearing our pajamas inside out — another fun snow superstition — we’d probably check our emails or alerts every five minutes, looking for that oh-so-beautiful phrase, “Condition 2,” which signified classes at UNC-Chapel Hill had been canceled on account of treacherous wintry weather.

Once the announcement came, we’d breathe out a sigh of relief, sleep in the next day, and awake to a day of snow, rest and fun. When news broke about North Carolina’s second snow storm last Thursday, I imagined students from elementary school to college would enjoy the same.

For the most part, that prediction bore out: the Wake County school system, Johnston County Schools, Durham Public Schools and Franklin County Schools all closed their doors and proclaimed Friday a snow day for students and staff. Even UNC-Chapel Hill and Central Carolina Community College followed suit.

Chatham County Schools did not.

Instead, the district opened its doors virtually and proclaimed Friday and Monday remote learning days.

Now, I’m not a CCS student, but even I felt a little deflated by that news.

Thanks to the times we live in, many educators and school administrators have presented several sound arguments against preserving snow days.

It makes sense to shift over to remote learning when bad weather strikes now that schools have more of the necessary infrastructure for distance learning in place. It makes even more sense thanks to how badly pandemic learning loss has hurt some students.

Classes can stay on schedule. Students no longer need to worry about making up school days in the summer or over scheduled breaks if ice and snow keep them out of the classroom for, let’s say, nearly two weeks. Parents no longer need to chew out the district for using four days of spring break as snow makeup days, as many Guilford County Schools parents did in 2014.

These arguments, however, imply that snow days can only ever do more harm than good — and that’s just not true. For many students, parents and even teachers, snow days can reap unexpected rewards.

Snow days can force you to slow down and rest, to take a mental health day. They offer parents, especially young parents, an extra day to bond with their children and teach them important life lessons, like how to build a snowman, or for teenagers, how to shovel the driveway.

Snow days give perennial procrastinators — a.k.a. most high school and college students — an extra day, or even more, to wrap up papers they would’ve stayed up until 3 a.m. doing otherwise. At its most basic level, snow days can bring pure fun: snowball fights, snow cream and slushies, snowmen, and my personal favorite, sledding.

Sure, too many snow days can impede learning and prove disruptive, but holding one every once in a while won’t bring about the Apocalypse.

Please don’t take away snow days.

Victoria Johnson is the News + Record’s La Voz de Chatham reporter. She can be reached at victoria@chathamnr.com.

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