NYC Is the Latest City to Be a Total Drag by Cancelling Snow Days

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NYC is the latest city to announce no more snow days thanks to virtual learning

This week, New York City’s Department of Education chancellor, David C. Banks, said that New York City public school students should be ready to attend class via virtual learning on days when snowfall would normally call for a “snow day.”

Banks was on the morning news show Good Day New York when he announced the change. “So, sorry kids—no more snow days, but it’s going to be good for you!” he told morning show. The city hasn’t used snow days since the start of the pandemic in 2020, but this week marks the first official announcement that they’re a thing of the past.

Last year, NPR reported that the disappearance of snow days has been a national trend since the onset of the pandemic, reporting that almost 40% of school officials said their district “had converted snow days to virtual learning days.” It was a “growing trend” according to Dan Domenech, who leads the American Association of School Administrators. “I think that the pandemic and the remote learning acceleration and improvement is leading now to schools looking at the school calendar in a very different way and basically looking at learning as something that can take place anytime, anywhere,” Domenech told NPR.

Well yes, that’s an accurate statement. Learning can take place anywhere. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that our increasingly-digital-dependent society has given us more options for learning, working, and even socializing. But just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should.

In New York state, students have to attend school 180 days a year. In my children’s district, this means that if an abundance of snow days eats into the amount of days they are required to spend in school, the school year may lengthen by a few days to make up for it. That has yet to happen, and I currently have a fourth grader and a sixth grader. I can’t tell you if a few more days in the summer would be something that they’d notice.  I can tell you that if two feet of snow was on the ground and they couldn’t physically get to school, they’d be dying to play in it.

The night before a potential “snow day” in our house means sleeping with a spoon under their pillows. It means wearing their pajamas backwards and flushing an ice cube down the toilet—all the wives tales that have passed from student to student for years, that even their teachers participate in encouraging. And when they wake in the morning, they truly believe that flushed ice cube is responsible for the snow on the ground. And they crawl back into bed or in front of the TV, knowing that their day will be spent with a blissful, unexpected absence of plans, classrooms, and teachers.

Robbing my kids of that feels like taking away the tooth fairy or telling them about Santa. It feels like removing one more magical thing about childhood—a childhood that eventually vanishes that they’ll never get back. As time changes, it just feels like there is so much less magic in the world for our kids. And I don’t want to take snow days from them.

No matter how good of a decision some school administrators may think it is.

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