“Did you turn on the radio? Check the Web site! Turn on the TV?” The myriad of ways we have to find out whether or not our school district is closed during a major snowstorm is only the beginning of how we spend our time. Once we know we are stuck inside for the day, the fun – or boredom, then begins.
This year, Long Island got “hammered” time and time again with school closings, school delays and the ensuing agony of not knowing what’s to come at five in the morning on a snowy school day. Adorned with snow boots and a shovel, parents and teachers braved the elements to dig their cars out from under a mountain of snow…and then ice. Oh, the ice! If you didn’t get out there fast enough, the mounds of snow became frozen pillars, only to be defeated by the sun…when it finally decided to make a guest appearance.
The first question the school community might ask is, “How will these snow days affect our spring break and summer vacations?” Each school must hold classes for 180 days, as mandated by the state. Some districts built in extra days into their school calendar, in preparation for bad weather or some other unforeseeable circumstance. Past that, spring break may be shortened or days may be added on in June to accommodate for the make up days.
Although children may enjoy the time off, there are many considerations that come with closing a school due to the weather. Parents may not have the luxury of taking care of their children during the day. School may be closed, but they may still need to go to work. If a school is closed too soon, the weather pattern might change and a snow day might not be needed after all. Students in lower socioeconomic districts might get free or subsidized breakfast and lunch. If school is not open, children might miss a meal.
Another alternative to losing school days would be to hold lessons and classes online. This method is typically seen in a college or university setting using programs such as Moodle, to allow students to log on to class discussions and hand in assignments. Some high schools are also doing this. Teachers can upload lesson plans, students can access them, and the workflow can continue in a virtual environment, right from your iPad. Most teachers in elementary schools have an online board as well. They can post the work they did in class during the day and the homework assignments for the night. Parents and students can log on to make sure they are staying on track.
What will you do the next time you have a snow day? Will you be creating lesson plans? Working another job? Digging out the driveway? Perhaps best of all, you just might take this opportunity to say, “Today is a good day to make chocolate chip cookies!”…and just enjoy the day.