The Death of Snow Days?

Photo Source:

Bella Brancato, Copy Editor

While the pandemic has taken away a great variety of events and occasions, Covid-19 cannot stop the snow. But can it take away snow days? For schools in the northeast like Pentucket, missing a day of school because of two feet of snow is typical, but the past 12 months have proven that this year is everything but normal. 

With the hybrid learning system, “snow days” have turned into “remote-learning days” this year at Pentucket. Similar to the debate over blizzard bags in the past, the approach to snow days this year has caused controversy among students, staff, and parents. 

Superintendent Dr. Bartholomew sent out a survey to members of the Pentucket community on Feb. 3 regarding their preferences for this year’s approach to inclement weather. The following chart breaks down the responses from parents, staff, and teachers, respectively from top to bottom:

Results of Pentucket Snow Day Poll (from top to bottom): Parents, Staff, and Teachers

Of the 1,890 responses, 1,099 (58 percent) voted in favor of calling a snow day, while 791 (42 percent) voted to continue having remote-learning days. With the small margin, it is too close to tell from the survey alone what will be done in the event of another snow day. 

Pentucket briefly experimented with “blizzard bags” in the past, which gave students work to do on snow days. If a certain percentage of students completed their assignments, the day would count as a school day. Blizzard bags gave students the ability to complete their assigned work anytime before class the following day, but remote-learning days require students to sign in to their classes on Zoom or Google Classroom from home. Since the format hardly differs from the typical school day this year, it brings up the question of whether or not remote learning days are the best response to snow. 

Photo Source: Adam@Home by Rob Harrell for March 4, 2021

According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, schools should use remote learning in the case of “school closures caused by severe COVID-19 conditions.” Since the weather is not considered a condition caused by the virus, the Pentucket community has debated whether or not snow should lead to a remote learning day.

Casesy Pederson, the Senior Student Council President and Student Representative to the School Committee, believes that it would be better for the students to have a snow day instead of a remote learning day. “This year has been extremely hard for everyone, with the pandemic taking away many of the best parts of school,” Pedersen says. “Snow days are one of the remaining COVID-safe, fun things the pandemic should not be allowed to take away.”

Pedersen also points out that students are experiencing additional stress from learning in a virtual format, and that the day off would be best for their mental health. “I find myself staring at my computer for seven hours worth of meetings, then staring at my computer for seven more hours worth of work.”

Photo Source: Adam@Home by Rob Harrell for March 3, 2021

Additionally, Pedersen and other members of the senior class have reported their disappointment about losing snow days this year since they do not need to make up the school days in June. Pedersen expresses, “So many rites of passage have been lost to us so I’m hoping we could have this one thing of the past back.”

This year has been a whirlwind of adapting to the new normal, and it has been hard for many to make those changes. A snow day has little significance in the grand scheme of a global pandemic, but that hint of normalcy may be the (masked) breath of fresh air people need.