One rite of passage during high-school is the always welcomed ‘Snow Day’. However, with COVID-19 dictating the rules in 2020 and beyond, don’t expect the usual festive atmosphere and anticipation of cancelled classes when the weather turns inclement in the coming months.
By | Alysha Casaclang
As the days get shorter and the air gets colder, the season of snow creeps upon us. With the weather in mind, Notre Dame released an email announcing that snow days this year will be online days for both staff and students. If there is a snow day on a Wednesday, the online schedule will stay the same (using the usual one-hour & fifteen-minute classes). However, if a snow day is called on a day other than Wednesday, full-day blocks will be implemented (2.5 hours) – not the customary off day. On these days it is up to the teachers’ discretion in regards to how much time of that block they utilize, with the minimum expectation being an hour & fifteen minutes ala Wednesdays.
In an announcement to parents, Principal DesLauriers explains that “one of the potential advantages of moving to online classes (on snow days) is that we can avoid losing days and hopefully maintain some relative continuity within our classes.” He also says, “another plausible benefit is that we can make the call sooner as opposed to waiting early in the morning. That may assist teachers and families in their planning adjustments”. Once a snow day has been called, the school will remain online for that day, regardless of changes in the weather. Practical, and reasonable, but not what students want to hear.
Learning is more accessible now and is not restricted to a classroom setting. In an email exchange Vice-Principal Tagulao shared a similar message, “with online now being available, students and staff no longer have to travel to school, but can safely stay home to continue learning”.
This news will probably be disappointing to many students, who hoped to retain a glimmer of fun through this trying school year, especially since so many activities, sports, clubs, and social encounters have been cancelled. Not to mention that the BC lockdown has been extended until January 8, 2021, effectively shutting down all the traditional activities and visits of family and friends. Now there isn’t even a day off school to look forward to in the case of snow. As Christians, the celebration of Christmas can never be shut down or cancelled, that’s not how the faith works. But sometimes having little things like a non-school day in the middle of winter can help to lift spirits.
Snow days are not just the cancellation of school due to weather conditions that make it hard for students to come to school; they are the pleasurable tradition of anxiously checking the weather reports with friends the night before, hoping (praying) for a snow day. Nowadays, culminating in phones blowing up with texts of elation when the school closure announcement is made!
It is sleeping in and enjoying a hot chocolate by the window watching the snowfall. Snow days are spending quality time with your family that you may not have had the chance to otherwise, with snowball fights and building snowmen with your siblings in the backyard, or messily baking some Christmas treats. Taking away snow days means taking away yet another chance to make happy memories. Snow days are now just another in a long list of activities to fall victim to the pandemic.
According to the Washington Post, the New Jersey school district pledges to protect snow days. In a statement, the Mahwah Township Public School District said, “We have decided that few childhood acts remain unchanged due to covid-19 and we will maintain the hope of children by calling actual snow days due to inclement weather”.
The snow day is a school ritual that students look forward to every year during the winter months. The spontaneous free-time adds a touch of positivity and magic to memories – which is something everyone could use a dose of right now.