The End of Snow Days?


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Snow days are usually a joyful, relaxing day for students across the country. But with virtual learning, their future is in doubt.

Caleigh Keating, Writer

Imagine you wake up on a cold winter morning, a foot of freshly fallen snow on the ground. You rush downstairs, checking your phone excitedly for the all but certain news of a snow day…only to find out you have a virtual learning day instead. This is the unfortunate situation confronting students all across the country this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For years, any possible snow day or “cold day” in the winter has been looked to with much anticipation, with students waiting on the edge of their seats for that call from Principal Heintz as snow falls from the night sky.
However, with the pandemic and the introduction of virtual learning, the state of snow days has been put in doubt. While some schools have opted to keep them, a majority of schools across the country have switched to having virtual learning days instead, eliminating what has become a rite of passage for Midwestern students.
The impact of the pandemic on snow days has been seen many times already this school year, both inside and outside of Loyola Academy. Chicago’s unusually snowy winter has left many opportunities for snow days, ones many high schools have not opted to take.
For many schools this year, it seems they would do anything to avoid giving their students the joy of a snow day, by substituting snow days for e-learning days, creating DIY virtual days if you can’t get to school (Loyola’s own invention), or forcing students to come to school when it may not be safe or practical to do so, in an effort to maximize in person learning.
Although virtual learning days might seem like an easy option to turn to for the principal’s office, it is absolutely imperative that Loyola keeps snow days. Snow days, of course, serve the practical purpose of not risking anyone’s safety while going to school, but for many students they serve another purpose as well.
For stressed out high schoolers, snow days serve as a needed mental health day at a time when the school year is at its most stressful and dreary. For both the students and the faculty, a day off and a chance to enjoy yourself can provided a much needed morale boost during the doldrums of a school year when motivation is often running low. And for kids across the region, the yearly snow day is a core childhood experience.
The seeming elimination of snow days was shown across the country this week when a President’s Day blizzard swept across the country, dumping more than a foot of snow on the Chicagoland area and giving many homes power and internet issues. So what did Loyola and most other schools do? A virtual learning day. Not a snow day, just school without being able to see your friends. Instead of keeping with tradition and offering some sympathy with the weather conditions by giving students and faculty a day to enjoy (or just deal with) the weather, a day to take an unexpected break and sort things out, schools decided to add school to the stress of the weather.
This seeming elimination of snow days has left many students dejected about the status of what was a bright spot of winter, myself included. With the possible elimination of snow days, students are deprived of a joyful childhood staple and a chance to take a break from their high stress life. Just because schools can replace snow days, doesn’t mean they should.