Keep snow days alive for everyone’s peace of mind


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The Editorial Board

For New York City public schools, the beloved snow day may be eliminated forever. Snow days, or days deemed unsafe for school buildings to open, are the rare instances where tired students and staff could take a much-needed breather.

Instead, these snow days will be replaced with a day of remote learning, which takes away the chance for school staff, students and families to take a break from a hectic school year. Traditions of playing in the snow, watching a movie in pajamas and making treasured childhood memories will be gone for the young students.

The new snow day will be just another eight hours of staring at a screen. Instead of letting kids be kids, students will be forced to return to the COVID-19 pandemic habit of online learning.

The city’s Department of Education announced the shift in policy in the 2021-22 school year calendar, with the support of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Although de Blasio has only declared seven snow days throughout his entire term, he has now announced support of canceling them for good, referring to them as, “a thing of the past.”

For public school officials, avoiding disruptions to course schedules is key.

“We are utilizing all of the lessons learned from remote schooling this year to maximize our students’ instructional time,” Nathaniel Styer, a spokesman for the Department of Education, said.

Educators are concerned about classes falling behind, as students have already lost learning time to the pandemic. Still, it’s for the very reason of the pandemic that some parents say they will not be allowing their children to attend their remote classes.

COVID-19 has already denied this generation of students other beloved schooltime traditions, such as graduation ceremonies, sports events and prom. A snow day may be more important for student morale and mental health than ever before.

Canceling snow days is “a very big issue, because it’s a window into how we look at our children, how we understand learning, and how we create environments for children,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman said.

Bowman is also a former middle school principal, elementary school teacher and high school dean. He is wary a day of online schooling will do much to keep students on track. Much of the reason so many have fallen behind is due to the inefficacy of remote learning to begin with.

“We have to be trauma-informed as we go back to school,” Bowman said. “And trauma informed is not, ‘More work to catch them up so that we can close the learning gap.’”