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Will the coronavirus pandemic end snow days forever?

Snow days may not be necessary if children can learn online — and that strikes a blow for kids everywhere.
/ Source: TODAY

Are there any two words more beloved by children than “snow day”?

If you grew up in a region of the country where flakes fall and blizzards come to town, then you no doubt remember that feeling of sheer, unadulterated glee when you found out school was canceled due to snow.

Who doesn’t recall being shaken from their slumber when the phone rang at 5 a.m. with a monotonous school recording informing parents that school will be closed that day? And who can forget trying to go back to sleep knowing there’s no school? The budding excitement over knowing what lies ahead on such a magical day kept us all awake.

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And, if that call never came, you’d keep your fingers crossed when you woke up that your school would be listed as closed when the morning news cycled through the statuses of schools in alphabetical order. Heaven forbid you discovered you’d have a delayed opening. Blech!

An unexpected break from the rigors of the daily routine was (and still is) always welcome for kids. Math class was replaced by snowball fights with the neighbors. Social studies gave way to taking a sled down the hill with friends. Lunch in the cafeteria became hot cocoa in the kitchen.

A snow day is a one-day vacation that no one planned. If it happened on a Friday, all the better — let the three-day weekend begin!

A snow day is accompanied by the implicit promise of fun. You can bundle up and build the ultimate snowman. You and some friends can play a sloppy game of football before going home dripping sweat, melted snow and maybe some mud that your mom would chastise you for bringing into the house.

There’s the enterprising kid who goes from home to home looking to make a few bucks shoveling driveways. Or maybe you just elect to hang inside all day in your pajamas watching game shows and movies, your world of academia put on pause.

But here we are in a year that is throwing more curveballs than snowballs. We’ve all had those conversations in which we ponder how things will change due to the coronavirus. We don’t know just how yet, but we’re all certain that parts of our lives will be altered in ways we can’t fully conceive.

The end of the snow day may be one of them. Inclement weather may preclude children from going to school in person, but, as the coronavirus has shown, it won’t stop students from going to class online. Parents have long wrestled with how to juggle work and child rearing when the kids are home during a snow day, but they’ve now graduated to figuring out how to keep things running smoothly when their kids are being schooled at home on a computer. It’s a fluid situation with no easy answers.

Teachers, students and their parents were forced into this wild west of remote learning on the fly last spring, with the option now being extended into the new school year in many places. Even if in-person learning resumes as the norm, we can just revert to online learning when the weather gets bad. Snow day? We don't need no stinkin' snow day.

Technology has its benefits, but there’s something sad about the idea it can strip future generations of the elation that comes from Mother Nature giving youngsters an unexpected day to relax because technology also allows them to remain in the classroom even when they can’t physically be there.

Nothing in life is static, yet we are always wistful when the things we count on or that have always been with us go by the wayside. You don’t appreciate good service in a restaurant until you’ve had bad service and you can’t appreciate the value of a snow day and what it represents until it’s become a thing of the past.

“When I was a kid, I walked 10 miles uphill in a blizzard to go to school,” we’ve heard older generations joke. It’s a line that could become ancient history, kind of like how snow day snowball fights with the neighbors may disappear when no one can go outside because everyone has to log on for algebra class.