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Students need more snow days

Once upon a time, snow meant a snow day, and the buses would not go anywhere. Now the buses stay covered, but students jump online to attend school virtually. (Photo by Catherine Galioto via Flickr)
Once upon a time, snow meant a snow day, and the buses would not go anywhere. Now the buses stay covered, but students jump online to attend school virtually. (Photo by Catherine Galioto via Flickr)

During our almost two full semesters of remote learning, Gonzaga has allowed us to have one snow day, despite conditions on several days that would typically warrant a day off in the snow. This begs the question, do Gonzaga students deserve snow days in their virtual learning/hybrid environment even along with G-Days and professional development days?

The debate on allowing administration-given snow days in a learning environment struggles with one particular issue: teaching enough material to the students.

With Gonzaga’s adjustment to virtual learning, G-days were introduced as asynchronous learning days, in which students would not have to log in virtually for class but still need to complete assignments for the next class. This allows students to take mental health breaks from the computer for more improved learning. This brings up the question if G-Days are enough for Gonzaga students to balance out the stress of online classes.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Ryan Loss, who has a private practice on behavioral health, tackled this issue nationally for all schools and decided this is a separate argument… [it] is a sense of mental health.”  

For most students, a snow day used to be an unexpected break from studying, school and homework that allowed for relaxation and a little extra free-time for students who desperately need it. The pandemic disrupted this by replacing snow days with asynchronous learning days, which damages the mental health of students. 

After this globally changing event, our society wants to return to the normal way of life; I  miss the normal life of going to school and suddenly waking up in the morning, reading an update on my school website declaring no school due to inclement weather. According to Dr. Loss, a route to this “sense of normalcy” is the continuation of snow days.

I understand that with only two or three 70-minute classes per week, our teachers struggle to find the time to teach their curriculum within such a condensed window— especially for those students who take AP classes and are required to learn a set amount of information in time for AP exams at the end of the year. 

But consider this. Imagine how bored and lazy students may be because they have to be inside on a zoom call, taking notes as they watch the snow fall outside their window, asking to be sledded and enjoyed. 

There doesn’t have to be a G-day every week, but there should be snow days when they are warranted. We don’t want the school to be canceled due to a little bit of ice; however, if the winter season brings little snow, we would like a few snow days here and there throughout January and February. If the winter season brings a massive blizzard shutting down the DMV for a week, then the students would understand if we had asynchronous days during that week off. All we ask for is when there is enough snow, Gonzaga cancels two to three more days during our third quarter.

 The educational norm has become online learning, and the future of our education will never be the same. “The pandemic has robbed our students of the normal rites of passage: normal prom, typical graduation,” and snow days, said Lisa Rizzo, New Jersey’s head of special services. Our generation and future generations of students should be slowly assimilated into the new way of life of hybrid virtual learning and still need snow days as this transition occurs.

Finally, I understand our administration is in a tough situation trying to portray that their academic system still works with all the changes a global pandemic brought and that they don’t want to show educational regression. However, I would like our faculty to consider the negative effects of overworking their students and go back a few years to their own childhood and think about the sheer joy a snow day brought them.

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    Pam ValeirasMar 5, 2021 at 9:41 am

    Great article. Good research on mental health, etc. I love snow days! Hot chocolate, popcorn, sledding, snowmen (and women!), ice forts, snow ball fights… these are some of my fondest memories as a student and a parent. Ice days, not so much. Maybe schools could strike a balance?