Snow days are a peak time for creativity in the winter: snowmen and snowwomen need to be built, snow needs to be packed together to make a slide, and hot chocolate needs to be made to warm our chilled bones. This sounds like a winter wonderland, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, however, this wonderful winter tradition has ended for New York City school students.
In 2021, when NYC released school calendars for the ’21-’22 school year, snow days were omitted. In a May 4, 2021 article, Eyewitness News details how, “some pandemic practices [were carried] over from the past year.” Instead of snow days, students will now have to log on to virtual learning for the extent of any inclement weather.
NYC may be the newest example of what may happen to snow days all together. As of now, in the ‘21-’22 Oceanside school calendar, there are still dates allotted for snow days. The benefit of maintaining this policy is to have one day off in May before Memorial Day (if no snow days are used) since the district will have reached its 180-day minimum for student learning. In addition, as one student put it, “We, as a society, seem to have lost the ability to relax and just appreciate the natural, mystical world around us. When I first heard of this news, I sat back and asked myself, ‘What’s the real harm in letting kids have an occasional snow day? Why are we so afraid of wasting a school day?'”
What Do Oceanside Students Think?
As a school district in New York, a state which faces the constant possibility of snow days in the winter months, Oceanside students seem to truly value these days, and I am sure that students would rally against the idea of ending snow days here in the Oceanside school district.
I reached out to some of my peers of OHS via text message. This allowed me to receive their opinions almost instantaneously and get their exact words and thoughts. However, this method truly shows how much of a technologically based society we have become, and how ingrained in our society virtual communication has become. The argument – for many of my peers – has not only been about ending snow days, but what kind of society we have developed in order for such a decision to be made. The students were insightful and descriptive, one telling me that, “Getting rid of snow days is throwing away a huge part of being a New Yorker; snow days in New York literally unites the entire community for a whole day” while another told me, “Yes there is logic behind [ending snow days] and yes I value my education, but the snow day is something of a cultural institution that I feel must be preserved.”
These ideas from students encapsulates how for much of the day, news stations are dedicated to the falling of the heavy snow. Some of the OHS students I interviewed told me of their memories of the snowy mornings when the news encouraged entire families and communities to stay home, drive less, cook a hearty meal, and simply be together in the snow. One student told me, “The prospect of [ending] snow days actually saddens me quite a bit to be honest. Some of my best memories were from those days, out on the hill with my friends and siblings, just being a bunch of kids laughing and exploring.” In this day and age with so much stimulation from excessive screen time, kids aren’t experiencing a classic childhood filled with imagination. Snow days are a chance for kids to go outside and just be a kid without expectations, time limits, and a screen in their face.
Another student shared how, “Snow days should not end. Everyone needs a mental health day and a break from school. Also, snow days happen like once or twice a year, maximum. It’s not affecting anyone’s learning, if anything it’s helping because people get a day to just relax.” The day before the most recent snow day OHS got on Friday January 7th, 2022, nearly the entire school was wishing for a snow day. Teachers and students alike shared in class how they needed a mental health day to just get work done, relax, and stay at home. It can give an entire community the rest they need for the next week ahead. A student shared this similar perspective, sharing that, “I think it’s a bad idea [to end snow days], snow days are days that we often remember fondly as kids and they give us time to spend with family. As teenagers and adults, it gives us mental health days and time to get some work done and relax.”
These perspectives are necessary to take into account since ending snow days affects not only the teachers, but the much larger student body. If ever this decision comes down to Long Island school districts, Oceanside students will be the first to drop everything and defend their snow days!