The “New Normal” and What it Means for the Future of Snow Days

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Photo via the Chicago Tribune.

Spending a snow day outside has always been a treasured pastime for many students.

Since the beginning of quarantine in March 2020, our online capabilities have grown, allowing students to attend full classes and complete assignments from the comfort of their own homes. Platforms like Zoom and Google Classroom ensure that we can get an education while still respecting social distancing restrictions. However, these new capabilities put in question the future of what, for many, was a staple of their childhood: snow days. When school is canceled due to weather conditions, should students have to attend classes virtually, or should the relaxation of a traditional snow day be upheld?

There are many benefits to changing snow days to a day of online learning. For one, students don’t miss out on classes, and are able to receive a full education for that day. Additionally, this prevents make up days from being added to the end of the year. St. Ignatius has had two snow days this year, both of them following the online school format. Students were able to attend all their classes online without having to travel in snowstorms. With our hybrid schedule, students are well-equipped to learn over Zoom, so not much is lost from the cancellation of an in person school day. However, many feel that the traditional snow days should be maintained for the sake of tradition.

Growing up, snow days were a source of excitement, fun, and relaxation. Students could sleep in, play in the snow, and finish any remaining assignments without the stress of attending school. Almost all teenagers have fond memories of building snowmen and making snow angels in the backyard; they were a fundamental part of many childhoods. Maeve Mastri ‘22 says, “Although it was definitely nice to have an occasional day off of school, what I miss most about traditional snow days is the nostalgic experience of crossing my fingers that it would keep snowing, anticipating a snow day, and feeling the satisfaction of waking up early in the morning to a call or email saying that you can take the day off.” Now, many of us are less likely to go out and play in the snow, but that doesn’t mean snow days hold any less value. The opportunity to sleep in is treasured by all students, and, most of all, snow days can be a relaxing break from the chaotic stress of school. Especially now, when many teenagers’ mental health is at an all time low, a day to relax and take care of yourself is something all students would appreciate. For younger students, snow days are an opportunity to have fun and make the most of the snow, something many of us look back with nostalgia. For teenagers, snow days give a much needed break from school; a day to focus on yourself and catch up on assignments if needed. Will this type of snow day ever return?

A phrase used often during quarantine has been “new normal.” It seems that for now, our new normal is a full day of online school instead of the traditional snow days. Hopefully, once we are allowed to return to school fully in person, the snow days of the past will return. As it is, we should make the most of our situation and take the opportunity to learn. Maybe one day the snow day will return, and if or when it does, it is clear that students will not take it for granted.