Open or Closed: Are School Snow Days Now Obsolete?

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Lynn How

Lynn is the Editor at Teacher Toolkit. With 20 years of primary teaching and SLT experience, she has been an Assistant Head, Lead Mentor for ITT and SENCO. She loves to write and also has her own SEMH and staff mental health blog: Lynn...
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Post-pandemic, are traditional ‘snow days’ a thing of the past?

Over the past 20 years, I can count on one hand the amount of snow days I’ve experienced. I love a snow day. An unwritten perk of the job, especially when I could walk in to town for a hot chocolate. *wistful sigh*.

My experiences

What I didn’t like was the unknown. The control freak in me was fine going to school and even more fine not going to school, but not knowing until the morning was excruciating! I used to check my phone for news on a minute by minute basis. 5:34, 5:35, 5:36…. ‘Ping!’ school is closed. Roll over, go back to sleep, and build a snowman later. Ah, good times.

Of course, a snow day is not this pleasant for everyone. Parents still have to work!

The head teacher has to weigh up all the scenarios first thing in the morning with the clock ticking:

  1. Is the heating and hot water frozen?
  2. Is the school premises safe to access?
  3. Can we feed our pupils?
  4. Will I have enough teachers reach the school safely?
  5. If we have to, how will we let parents, pupils and teachers know?

We have all worked for a school that will never close the school whatever the weather. We then diligently take our lives into our hands attempting to get to work in dangerous conditions, sometimes when we shouldn’t have to.

The highlight of this unexpected day off was always going out and watching families having fun together in the snow. A snow day for me is almost a rite of passage and should be included on those government life experience checklists they published a few years ago.

When the decision is made, some schools set a snow acrostic poem or similar for homework in the school’s virtual learning environment. Others say, ‘Sod it, let them have fun!

But what next?

With the era of Zoom and remote teaching now upon us, are snow days a thing of the past?

There really is no need to stop ‘learning’ if you can complete the entire day of remote learning online. What a relief! Teachers can teach, learners can learn, and the government will be thrilled. This opinion, however, is not shared by Alfie, who is somewhat distracted by the falling snow. He has cunningly positioned the laptop so that he can half-listen to his teacher’s lesson on multiplication, whilst his face is pressed up against the window longing to be outside.

However, whenever the next ‘snow day’ arrives, any decision made will never suit everyone. The vulnerable pupil who is safer in school the home; the parent-teacher with 3 children now off school, but expected to be at their own school; the overseas teacher with no family who a) wants to go out and play or b) wants to be at work.

Snow day decisions will never suit everyone.

Let children be children …

You may have gleaned from this that I think that if a snow day is happening, it should be embraced for what it is.

In England, snow is not that frequent. Children can miss out on important life experiences or, even if they are at school, have a snowball fight with their teacher. I’m sure post-pandemic, there are many in the, ‘one more day of lost learning’ and others in the ‘we need to make up the lost learning’ camp

Personally, I feel that the family time and social interaction of a snow day is all the learning you need, but I accept there will be others with no social support or find themselves in a position where there is no decision to be made.

Whatever your school’s stance on the future of snow days, it may be wise to discuss it before next winter!

What do you think?

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