No words can describe the emotions of relief and joy that a student experiences when they wake up to a classic snow day. Rushing to school, stress and doing homework all magically turn into sleeping in, hot chocolate and playing in the snow. However, with the advances of technology, will the characteristic, work-free snow day become a part of ancient history?
Teachers and administration have been debating and discussing whether a policy should be created, where students have the responsibility of working from home during a snow day through internet tools such as MyMCPS classroom. “We’ve had discussions to set guidelines as to what to do in the event of a snow day,” special education teacher Debbie Freedman said.
English teacher Nicholas Hitchens is part of the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT). Resource teachers, administration and other leaders from around the building meet to discuss topics regarding the school. “As a small committee we discussed a few things relating to snow days. The whole conversation started off to assess what to do about testing following a snow day and also how teachers communicate their expectations to students for what work would be due or made up. Ultimately, there seemed to be some consensus around explicitly communicating to students what our expectations were and then also to be able to have some flexibility with regards to assessments, etc. I, for one, think that snow days are super fun and should be, both for teachers and students,” Hitchens said.
Social studies teacher Christina Rice, also part of ILT, said that one of the focuses of the discussion was on testing. “A teacher in the leadership team wanted to discuss it because of the impact on testing. The last snow day was on a Thursday. For the students who had tests scheduled on Thursday, it was assumed that it would be made up by Friday. But then you might have students who are slammed with tests because they might have some already scheduled for Friday, plus the make up test from Thursday. There were a variety of opinions on what policy should be, and we were looking for a uniform decision about best practices during a snow day. In my opinion, teachers should be communicating to their students and everyone should be flexible with the conditions that the snow day puts us in,” Rice said.
The snow day dilemma has not solely affected Montgomery County. According to an article from Edutopia (“The Beginning of the End of Snow Days”), school systems in Camden and Rockport, Maine have decided to implement “Remote Days.” These will replace two snow days in the school year, where students would complete school work from home through the internet.
Students feel strongly against the possibility of working from home. Junior Jonathan Lee is one of them. Lee feels that snow days should stay the just the way they are. “I think that we should have time to ourselves since we are already doing hours of homework every night,” Lee said.
Senior David Mejía thinks it would cause more complications rather than making the school year run smoothly. “Testing out a policy for snow days on students would mean that the teachers would have to check if everyone did the work, understood what was put online, technical issues would have to be solved since sometimes the internet fails etc. It would be simpler and more efficient to just pick up where everyone left off the day when everyone comes back,” Mejía said.
Students have also reflected on the fact that a possible internet based approach toward snow days can put others at a disadvantage. “We must consider that there might be students who do not always have easy and quick internet access from home all the time. This could unjustly affect the grades and learning process of certain students,” junior Sabrina Shah said.