My son, a seventh-grader, loves the first one or two snow days of the year. There’s the anticipation of not knowing if there will be school or not. Then once the district calls to confirm there’s no school, there’s the relaxation of knowing that he can sleep in.
However, this winter the novelty of the snow day has long melted away. At this point he doesn’t want any more snow days. He knows that having days off now translates to going to school longer in the summer.
And the novelty of snow days has worn off for me as well. In its place is a plea — please don’t let it snow. Let them have school tomorrow. This year I’ve lost count of how many snow days we’ve had. I do know that he’ll go to school through the first week of June, when the original last day was scheduled for May 26.
And with a few more weeks of winter left, it could be later than that before school is out.
It wasn’t like this when I was a kid. I went to Ritenour schools through eighth grade, and then to Hazelwood West High. Snow days were rare. It took inches of snow and ice before school was called off. Every time my son is off school I check the school closing list and almost always find that both of my former districts also are off.
School administrators take many factors into account when deciding whether or not to close school. They drive the roads, and listen to weather and road condition reports. But these days, schools in this area tend to err on the side of caution and safety.
That has its pros – we don’t have to worry about safety issues of having all those buses on the roads. But it also has its cons. There are concerns that we’re raising a bunch of wimps that won’t be able to cope with a little snow and ice – much less any of the other challenges that will confront them.
And what about the loss of days spent in school learning? Yes, schools will make up snow days in order to meet the required number of days in school. But will those make-up days at the end of the school year be as constructive as the days missed during the winter? And what about the classroom time lost before the ever-important MAP tests that are given in the spring?
The St. Louis Public Schools had scheduled last Friday to be a half-day for professional development. The school opted to make the day a full school day instead.
“We want to provide as much academic instruction as possible before the MAP tests,” explained Julie Linder, the district’s media relations coordinator.
I can’t say that I blame the district for its decision. Students had already missed nearly a week of school. I worry about all the school time missed this winter.
Here’s hoping that the snow stays out of our area. And again the plea: Yes, it's cold, but let them have school tomorrow.
By Gina Parsons, education blogger for SmartParenting