I saw a headline recently that announced the death of "Snow Days" for schoolchildren. The main point of the article was that virtual learning protocols have put into place mechanisms which mean that, going forward, nothing--including severe weather which keeps school buses off the roads--will keep kids from still putting in a day of schoolwork, remotely.
I can't help but feel that this is a bit of a bummer.
I followed the rhythms of the academic calendar for nearly every year of my life, including the twelve which got me through the grades, the twelve more during which I did college and grad school coursework, and the many years when I taught college and elementary/middle school. Those rhythms--the ebbs and flows of the marking periods and semesters--are certainly engrained in me, even when I am not actively in an academic setting. As much as those rhythms felt good to me, I was still one of those--both as a learner and as an educator--who really appreciated a break in the routine, a good ol' SNOW DAY.
As kids, my brother and I would sit by the TV, watching the scroll of school closure announcements during snowy mornings in central PA, hoping that our school would be on the list. Like mad bingo contestants, we'd watch the names with intense anticipation. As an adult who is not a huge fan of winter driving, I would obsessively check snow and closing reports for hours before I would have usually gotten up to get ready for an actual school day. That moment that my particular institution would pop up on the TV or phone screen, I always felt the same exuberance of sweet release.
I enjoy responsibility and routine, but there is still something so compelling to me about being told, in essence: "Not today. Today, nothing will be asked of you, because the world is taking a big snowy break for a few hours, while we get plowed out." Living here in The Brogue, it's often literally true that we can't safely leave the property after big weather events, until we plow our own driveways or scrape off our own ice. A Snow Day is like permission to let go of the reins for just a little while, and let those horses drink in the stream. Listen to the snowy woods.
It's not easy to switch to virtual learning, and I am in awe of the learners and educators who have navigated these strange times of "hybrid" learning with such flexibility, going back and forth between formats and still getting everything done. And yes--Snow Days can wreak havoc and cause all kinds of scheduling headaches, particularly when big weather events pile up the cancellations like, well, huge drifts of "the white stuff." But still--what a shame (I've been thinking) not to have any chance of any future Snow Days, days unexpectedly and blessedly "off."
In a way, many of us have, in essence, been experiencing nine months of Snow Days, with our normal routines hampered by situations beyond our control. While cabin fever is real and "normal" is really hard to grab hold of, I do know that I've appreciated some aspects of this time in the home, time with our boys, time around the table with nowhere else to go.
So when the snow fell in earnest yesterday, I still felt a definite thrill. And waking up this morning to a world transformed was actually energizing. A good time to take another breath, put on some boots, and listen to a newly quiet winter world.