Do you remember what a nightmare it was for students across America when the world was thrown into lockdown and school went remote?
Online school was the best option for the worst situation. It was a necessary evil for students to endure Chromebooks for seven hours a day, five days a week.
It was a necessary evil for them to struggle with their internet connections, and for those students who live in abusive households, it was a necessary evil to have them endure the chaos of home instead of the security of school.
But in 2023 America, the worst of the pandemic is largely behind us. We are moving on into the future, and yet many of the relics of pandemic life and the dreaded “new normal” remain engrained into our lives.
I’ve worked with students who act as whistleblowers exposing the disservice they are receiving in the classroom when it comes to online instruction.
There are students who tell me they spend their entire period listening to an online lesson, just to be given an online assignment as their teacher sits on his or her own computer.
There are students who don’t receive pencil and paper assignments anymore—the Chromebook dominates all.
So now, as winter finally begins to look like winter, the last thing K-12 students need is a new rule dictating that snow days or ice days be replaced by seven hours of online instruction.
This would be especially devastating to younger children, particularly elementary level students.
I am an education major currently student teaching, and I have seen the pure happiness on students’ faces as they revel in the joy that is a snow hill. The snowy weather means something extra special to younger people, and we shouldn’t want the special joy of a snow day to be lost.
After the last few snowfalls that finally welcomed winter to the month of January, I know there are snow days on the horizon; it’s only a matter of time. Students need play, and that play exists outdoors on those magical snow days. Sledding, snowmen, snow angels… What better than a snow day for a child to enjoy such activities?
Students need play, and that play exists outdoors on those magical snow days. Sledding, snowmen, snow angels… What better than a snow day for a child to enjoy such activities? But those days will be lost if school districts opt for virtual school days in lieu of snow days.
Do we want those days to be forever lost for our children? Should they not enjoy the same magical memories we adults did when we were kids? The alternative is that the snow lays its white carpet on the grass and remain untouched as students hunker down and stare at a computer screen all day.
Those who argue for virtual school in replacement of snow days are not ill-intentioned. However, this argument fails to acknowledge the concerns of the teachers and the students.
Not every educator makes online instruction the primary component of the school day.
Online instruction for many would be a lackluster lesson plan thrown together the morning of. This is no fault of the teachers since who would expect them to assemble an online lesson on their own time the night before a major snowstorm?
How can we expect them to prepare such an elaborate lesson when they planned for in-person instruction? Educators should not be given this extra burden on top of their other responsibilities.
The decision to make snow days online school days is ultimately on the higher ups. Whatever decision they make will have a lasting impact on teachers, parents, and children alike. But those who will suffer the most are the students who lose a playful chunk of childhood.
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